CBI court rejects 3rd closure report in Chandigarh’s multicrore theme park scam, summons three former IAS officers
The special court of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Chandigarh, has rejected the third closure report in the decade-old multicrore amusement-cum-theme park project scam, involving three former Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officers.
The court has also summoned the three officers, including the then adviser to administrator Lalit Sharma, besides real estate firm Unitech Limited, as accused.
The other two officers are then UT home secretary Krishan Mohan and then director, tourism, Vivek Atray.
The summons have been issued under Sections 420 (cheating), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13(1)d read with Section 13(2) — pertaining to criminal misconduct by a public servant — of the Prevention of Corruption Act. They all have been directed to be present in court during the next hearing on January 20.
In the third closure report submitted on November 14, 2018, the CBI had stated that no evidence was found against the accused.
In 2009, Vivek Aditya, a Right to Information (RTI) activist, had complained to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) about alleged financial irregularities in the project. Later, the case was shifted to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The CVC, too, submitted a report to the CBI, highlighting its crucial findings.
On October 4, 2010, the CBI registered an FIR against the three IAS officers and Unitech Limited (through its representative — director Ajay Chandra) for corruption, abuse of power and criminal conspiracy.
It was stated that the former top officials of the UT administration, in connivance with Unitech, indulged in a “criminal conspiracy” and awarded 73.65 acres of land in Sarangpur village to the firm for ₹5.5 crore fixed annual licence fee and on a 1.1% annual revenue sharing basis. It was alleged that the administration ignored financial rules while inviting tenders and shortlisting companies and that these officers had allegedly “ignored” the highest bidder, DLF. The project has since been scrapped.
In the third closure report, the CBI stated: “It has been revealed that sufficient evidence has not emerged against accused persons during the course of further investigation... No evidence has emerged that the accused officials/accused company were in knowledge about the financial bid of DLF, in absence of which it could not be conclusively established that the accused officials acted in conspiracy with each other to deliberately disqualify DLF and for making Unitech Limited highest bidder.”
Stating the “no criminality can be attributed to accused persons”, the CBI sought acceptance of the third closure report.
However, on Monday, the court rejected the report. The order mentioned that complainant Vivek Aditya “was not satisfied with the investigation and any of the closure reports filed by the CBI”.
“He has also submitted photocopies of the documents containing 70 pages related to the arbitration proceedings initiated by Unitech Limited against Chandigarh Administration and claimed ₹95 crore with respect to project in question in the case... The closure report filed by the CBI is rejected and all the accused persons are ordered to be summoned for January 20,” the order said.
2009: CVC gets complaint from RTI activist Vivek Aditya
2010: CBI registers case of corruption, abuse of power and criminal conspiracy
April 2012: CBI files closure report, stating it found no evidence
August 2012: CBI court rejects report, orders further investigation
March 2013: CBI files second closure report, giving clean chit to accused
June 2013: CBI court rejects report, orders further investigation
November 2018: CBI files third closure report
January 2020: CBI court rejects it and issues summons