Punjab CM Amarinder, son Raninder discharged in Ludhiana City Centre case
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, his son Raninder Singh, son-in-law Raminder Singh and 28 others accused were discharged in the Ludhiana City Centre case here on Wednesday afternoon.
The court of district and sessions judge Gurbir Singh accepted the closure report in the case that was filed by the Punjab vigilance bureau more than two years ago. The case was registered in 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 2002-07, in the Ludhiana City Centre project that was rolled out in 2006.
Five of the accused died during the trial.
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 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.
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 petitions that have questioned the validity of the report, and have sought its dismissal.
Prominent among those who challenged the closure report include former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini; former vigilance SSP Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu; Atam Nagar MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains and the 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.
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.
March 2007: Punjab vigilance bureau files an FIR in the Ludhiana City Centre case with Captain Amarinder Singh named as one of the accused
December 2007: Vigilance files chargesheet
June 2013: Enforcement directorate registers an ECIR (Enforcement Case Investigation Report) and begins its own investigation
August 20, 2017: Vigilance files closure report
August 30, 2018: Former SSP Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu files application for being heard, claiming that he is being threatened; court dismisses plea
November 15: Arguments on closure report begin
November 28: Former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini moves plea, urging the court to hear him out before passing an order, saying that he wished to submit additional evidence
February 27, 2019: Saini’s plea dismissed; court rules he has no locus standi
November 27, 2019: Court accepts vigilance’s closure report.