Punjab vigilance books Manpreet Badal, 5 others in land allotment case
2 arrested, raids being conducted to nab others, says VB; a case under IPC sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 120-B and 13(1) of Prevention of Corruption Act and Information Technology Act has been registered against Manpreet Badal and others
The vigilance bureau on Sunday booked former finance minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Manpreet Singh Badal and five others, including a PCS officer, on corruption charges in a land allotment case.
A case under IPC sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 120-B and 13(1) of Prevention of Corruption Act and Information Technology Act has been registered against Manpreet Badal and others, said a top VB functionary, adding that raids are being conducted to arrest those named in the FIR.
The other accused have been identified as Bikramjit Shergill, then MC commissioner and Bathinda Development Authority chief administrator, Rajiv Kumar, Amandeep Singh, Vikas Arora and Pankaj, a then BDA superintendent.
While Rajiv and Amandeep have been arrested, operation is underway to arrest Vikas and Pankaj.
The complaint was filed by former MLA Sarup Chand Singla who had alleged irregularities in the purchase of a property in a prime location in Bathinda city. Singla, who too had switched from the Shiromani Akali Dal to the BJP, had filed a complaint before vigilance in September 2021 alleging that during his tenure as finance minister in the previous Congress regime, Manpreet had abused his position by converting commercial plots in the Model Town into residential plots for himself.
According to the VB, the case pertains to change of land use of commercial plot to residential in Bathinda that was later allegedly sold to Manpreet via proxy. The bidding of the plot was done from a single IP address, said the VB, adding that Rajiv and Vikas purchased the plot in the bidding, and later transferred it to Manpreet at a lower price.
The vigilance said the plot in question was sold by concealing facts, and a day after the bidding, Manpreet and the purchaser entered into a sale agreement even as the bidding process was not approved. All the three different bids are made from a single IP address, which indicates that it was a proxy bid to procure commercial plot at residential prices, it added.
“It’s a watertight case as electronic evidences have been generated,” confirmed the VB functionary.
Manpreet is the sixth minister in the previous Congress government who has been booked in a corruption case.
In July, Manpreet had appeared before the vigilance bureau’s Bathinda zone office, where he was questioned for more than four hours. On his part, the veteran politician has been terming the complaint a political vendetta. “It’s a bundle of lies. There was no irregularity in the plot allotment,” he had said.
On Friday, Manpreet filed a pre-arrest bail application in the Bathinda district court.Sukhdeep Singh Bhinder, who represented Manpreet, said along with the bail plea, they had submitted a transcript of chief minister Bhagwant Mann’s recent public address where he allegedly stated that the five-time legislator will be sent behind the bars. “The bail application states that CM is trying to mount pressure on the VB. Badal duly accepted VB’s summons and appeared before its Bathinda zone office on July 24 and submitted all details related to the plot allotment. The probe is a result of political vendetta and the police administration may be abused to harass Manpreet on fabricated grounds,” said Bhinder.