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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

Capt Amarinder gets a clean chit in Amritsar land scam

Mohali court accepts closure report filed by VB in a case of alleged corruption in transfer of land to private developer.

punjab Updated: Jul 28, 2018 09:45 IST
Shailee Dogra
Shailee Dogra
Hindustan Times, Mohali
Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh appears in Mohali district court in Amritsar Improvement Trust case on Friday.
Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh appears in Mohali district court in Amritsar Improvement Trust case on Friday. (Keshav Singh/HT )

After 500 hearings spread over 10 long years, chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and 17 others were finally cleared of all charges in the Amritsar Improvement Trust (AIT) scam after a Mohali court on Friday accepted the Vigilance Bureau (VB) report giving all accused a clean chit.

The case was registered by the VB following the recommendation of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, alleging a scam in granting exemptions for the transfer of 32.1-acre land belonging to the Amritsar Improvement Trust to a private realtor.

In a brief order, Jaswinder Singh, additional district and sessions judge, special court (vigilance) pronounced: “After hearing arguments, the court is of the opinion that the second investigation has been conducted properly, and the cancellation filed the second time is accepted by the court.”

The order was pronounced in the presence of Amarinder and 15 accused. Three accused, including former Punjab assembly speaker Kewal Krishan and ministers Chaudhary Jagjit Singh and Raghunath Sahai Puri, died during the course of investigation.

“I was targeted due to political vendetta but there are so many others who suffered for 10 years, this shouldn’t have happened,” said Amarinder. He added: “This cancellation report was filed when the SAD-BJP alliance was in power and not the Congress. We have nothing to do with it. Truth has prevailed.”

His counsel, senior advocate APS Deol, said: “Our faith in judiciary stands redeemed today. Law has taken its course and truth has prevailed. It was a politically motivated case and this final order lays all controversies to rest.”

It was in September 2008 that Amarinder and 17 others were booked by the VB under Sections 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will, etc) and 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using a forged document) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. They were also booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The challan, filed in February 2009, charged the 18 accused with involvement in the alleged scam that caused a loss of ₹360 crore to the state exchequer. However, the charges were never framed.

The VB filed a cancellation report in the special court in October 2016 after conducting investigations as directed by the high court. It also sought the discharge of all accused.

  • September 11, 2008: Vigilance Bureau registers an FIR against 18 persons, including Capt Amarinder Singh, alleging a ‘scam’ in granting exemption for transferring 32.1 acres of prime land of the Amritsar Improvement Trust to a private developer.
  • February 10, 2009: Challan filed
  • December 22, 2014: HC orders fresh probe
  • October 7, 2016: VB files a cancellation report, giving a clean chit to all the accused
  • December 9, 2016: In her statement before the court in December 2016, Punjab Vidhan Sabha secretary Shashi Lakhanpal Mishra had said that they have no objection in case the cancellation report submitted by the vigilance department is accepted by the court. The case was registered on a report by the Vidhan Sabha secretary, hence she was treated as a complainant
  • August 24, 2017: Court rejects the cancellation report and directs the Vigilance Bureau to further investigate the matter.
  • November 1: Former Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh moves the Mohali special court in the Amritsar Improvement Trust (AIT) land scam case, seeking directions to the state government to hand over the investigations to the CBI or any other independent agency.
  • July 11, 2018: Court dismisses his application, seeking that he be considered a complainant
  • July 27, 2018: Court accepts the cancellation report

First Published: Jul 27, 2018 16:00 IST

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