Headshoulder Ludhiana City Centre case: Verdict on closure report today; CM, son to be present in court
More than two years after the Punjab vigilance bureau filed a closure report in the Ludhiana City Centre case, the court of district and sessions judge Gurbir Singh will pronounce its verdict on Wednesday. All 32 accused, including Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, his son Raninder Singh, son-in-law Raminder Singh and 29 others, have been asked to appear in court at 3pm. The First-Information Report (FIR) was filed in March 2007.
According to the vigilance, Capt Amarinder Singh and 35 others caused the state exchequer a loss to the tune of ₹1,144 crore, by favouring a private builder during his previous term as the CM from 2002-2007, in the Ludhiana City Centre project that was rolled out in 2006. Four of the accused have died during trial.
Shopping malls, multiplexes, residential apartments and a helipad were planned as part of the 25-acre project that the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) was to develop. The project site on Pakhowal Road, Ludhiana, is currently in ruins.
CM’s media adviser Raveen Thukral confirmed that the CM will be coming to the Ludhiana court on Wednesday.
In its inquiry, the vigilance alleged that Amarinder, in connivance with LIT officials and others, favoured a private company, M/S Today Homes, and awarded it the contract by ‘tampering bids’. It was also alleged that the Congress party wanted funding of at least ₹100 crore from this project for the 2007 polls and, therefore, the then CM and others received this ‘bribe money’ from the owners of M/S Today Homes for awarding them the contract.
The vigilance probe added that LIT officials allegedly ‘tampered’ with the bids on the night of May 10-11, 2005, at Hotel Park Plaza, Ludhiana, where Today Homes representatives were also present. This was five days before bids were officially opened on May 17, 2005, it also claimed.
However, in 2017, the investigating agency took a U-turn in the case in the closure report, saying that all the allegations were fictitious.
Over the past two years, the hearing on the closure report has been marred by several petitions that have questioned the validity of the report, and have sought its dismissal.
Prominent among those who challenged the closure report included former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini; former vigilance SSP Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu; Atam Nagar MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains and architect for the city centre, SK Dey. All of them filed similar petitions seeking dismissal of the closure report, and wanting to submit additional evidence in the form of documents. However, the court dismissed their petitions on the grounds that they had no locus standi.