Amarinder Singh, son acquitted in Ludhiana project case
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, his son Raninder Singh, son-in-law Raminder Singh and 28 others accused of causing a loss to the state exchequer by favouring a private builder were acquitted of the charge by a court 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 and discharged all 31 accused The case was registered in 2007.
“The charges against us have been rejected,” Amarinder Singh told reporters outside the court, adding he had known all along that it was a false case.
According to the vigilance bureau, 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 Punjab CM from 2002-07 in the Ludhiana City Centre project that was launched in 2006. Four of the accused died during the trial.
In its inquiry, the vigilance bureau alleged that Amarinder Singh, in connivance with officials of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT), and others, favoured a private company, M/S Today Homes, and awarded it the contract by tampering with the bids.
It was also alleged that the Congress party wanted funding of at least ₹100 crore from this project for the 2007 polls and that the accused received kickbacks from the owners of M/S Today Homes for awarding it 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.
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 sought its dismissal.
Prominent among those who challenged the closure report were former Punjab director general of police Sumedh Singh Saini; former vigilance senior superintendent of police Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu; Atam Nagar legislator 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. The court dismissed their petitions on grounds that they had no locus standi in the case.
(PTI contributed to this story)