Laxmi Vilas disinvestment case: Arun Shourie appears before CBI court, denies wrongdoing
The Rajasthan high court has already dismissed the allegation of undervaluation of the disinvestmentUpdated: Oct 14, 2020, 16:38 IST
Former Union disinvestment minister Arun Shourie appeared before a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Wednesday and said that neither was there any procedural violation nor undervaluation in the disinvestment of Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel in Udaipur.
He also denied any political motive in the case regarding the 2002 sale of the Indian Tourism Development Corporation-run hotel in Udaipur. He furnished a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and two sureties of Rs 1 lakh each.
The Rajasthan high court has already dismissed the allegation of undervaluation of the disinvestment.
Presiding Officer Pooran Kumar Sharma has fixed the next hearing on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters outside the court, Shourie said the CBI has submitted closure reports twice in the disinvestment of Laxmi Vilas Palace. The CBI in its closure report has stated 14 such points, on the basis of which the agency found that there was no merit in the case. Despite the closure report, the CBI court has taken cognizance of the court. “I have written five books on the Supreme Court, but never questioned the motives of the court,” he said.
Shourie said that the biggest charge concerns undervaluation and has no logical basis.
He said a petitioner, one Ambalal Nayak, had challenged the evaluation process in the high court, but the court had dismissed the charge.
When the CBI started an investigation in 2014 on the basis of an anonymous complaint, the price was estimated to be Rs 150 crore and now it is said that assets worth around Rs 250 crore have been undervalued and sold. Shourie, however, said all the allegations are baseless.
On September 15, the special CBI court ordered the registration of criminal cases against former Union disinvestment minister Arun Shourie, chairperson and managing director of Bharat Hotels Limited Jyotsna Suri, former disinvestment secretary Pradip Baijal, then managing director of investment firm Lazard India Limited Ashish Guha and then head of valuation firm Kanti Karamsey Karamsey Vikamsey. The case centres on the sale of the Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel in Udaipur, earlier run by the Indian Tourism Development Corporation, to Bharat Hotels Limited in 2002. The CBI filed an FIR in 2014, alleging that the government lost Rs 244 crore in the sale. The special court had issued arrest warrants against the accused persons, which the high court had stayed.