The local police booked Congress leader Balbir Raja Sodhi and six officials of the Phagwara Improvement Trust (PIT) on Wednesday, in a case of embezzlement in allotment of seven plots of the trust in 2005.
Kapurthala senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rajinder Singh said an FIR had been lodged on the complaint of PIT executive officer (EO) Surinder Kumari. He also said a special investigation team (SIT) led by Phagwara superintendent of police (SP) Ashwani Kumar and comprising DSP Manpreet Singh Dhillon and Phagwara city station house officer (SHO) Raman Kumar would investigate the matter.
Sodhi served as chairman of the trust during the tenure of Captain Amarinder Singh led Congress government from 2002 to 2007. He also unsuccessfully contested the 2012 Assembly elections as the Congress candidate against chief parliamentary secretary and Phagwara Bharatiaya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Som Parkash. He is still a strong contender for the Congress ticket in the constituency.
Six other officials of the trust, including the then executive officer (EO) Jatinder Singh (currently posted as EO in Barnala), superintendent Amarjit Singh Gogia (retired as EO), senior officer Rakesh Kumar (now posted in Khanna), head draftsman Rajeev Kumar (currently posted in Hoshiarpur), junior assistant Kulwant Singh (now retired) and clerk Narinder Sharma (presently posted in Amritsar Improvement Trust), have also been booked by the police.
All seven accused were booked under sections 420 (cheating), 465 (punishment for forgery), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
In her complaint to police, EO Kumari has claimed that she has unearthed a scam running into crores of rupees, committed by former chairman of the trust. The EO has alleged that Sodhi, in connivance with other officials of the trust, intentionally tampered with the records and gave financial benefits to some private firms in the auction of scheme number 1 plots at Hargobind Nagar, Phagwara, in 2005.
The EO has alleged that the former chairman changed the clauses in the regulations for allotment and added one more clause to sell seven flats and five ready-constructed shops and sold them to private parties at throw away prices in an auction done on June 17, 2005.
When contacted, Sodhi termed the FIR as a planned political conspiracy to defame him. “If a fair investigation was done by the executive officer before registration of this FIR, then why was I not given any chance to represent myself and put across my viewpoint? What is the reason behind registration of FIR after 11 years of the allotment,” he said.