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Ludhiana city centre scam: ED says VB refused to give copies of FIR, challan

The high court has issued a notice to the Punjab government on the ED’s petition.

punjab Updated: Aug 20, 2017 09:47 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Ludhiana city centre scam,Punjab vigilance bureau,ED
A month after Amarinder took over as the CM, the ED had finally moved the Punjab and Haryana high court challenging the Ludhiana’s court order saying it was being denied copies of the FIR and challan in the multi-crore scam. (HT File )

Barely six months after coming to power, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has been given a clean chit by the state vigilance bureau (VB) in the Ludhiana City Centre scam. But what raises questions over the conduct of the VB is its refusal to share copies of the first information report (FIR) and challan (chargesheet) filed by it in a Ludhiana court with the enforcement directorate (ED), which is probing the money laundering angle of the case.

The ED, which had registered an enforcement case information report (ECIR) in 2013, taking a suo motu notice, has been seeking the copies in repeated correspondence with the department. It had also moved the Ludhiana sessions court, which refused to entertain its plea. A month after Amarinder took over as the CM, the ED had finally moved the Punjab and Haryana high court challenging the Ludhiana’s court order saying it was being denied copies of the FIR and challan in the multi-crore scam.

We have now moved the HC to seek a copy of the FIR and chargesheet. The VB has not shared the copies despite repeated correspondence.

“The correspondence for getting the copies of the FIR and challan have been on for many years with the vigilance. We have now moved the HC to secure them,” Jalandhar-based ED joint director Girish Bali told HT.

The high court has issued a notice to the Punjab government on the ED’s petition.

On how will the cancellation report by the VB impact the ED probe, he said the court is yet to accept the VB report. The state vigilance falls under the home department, a portfolio under the CM’s control, with one of his trusted officers, additional director general of police (ADGP) BK Uppal, at the helm.

The vigilance was earlier headed by Punjab police chief Suresh Arora during the previous Akali-BJP government. Amarinder retained Arora as the state police chief despite stiff opposition from many quarters, including Congress MLAs. The VB had last year filed a cancellation report in the Amritsar Improvement Trust case, in which Amarinder was an accused. It had led to Opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accusing the Badals and Amarinder of playing a “friendly match”.

Earlier, witnesses and even officials had resiled in cases filed by Amarinder as CM in his previous tenure (2002-07) against the Badals. Notably, incumbent vigilance chief Uppal was the supervisory officer in a corruption and disproportionate assets case filed against former CM Parkash Singh Badal, his wife Surinder Badal and son Sukhbir Singh Badal. They were acquitted in October 2010 on grounds of “no incriminating evidence” following which they could be questioned under Section 313 (power to examine the accused) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The court had then also ordered that perjury proceedings be initiated against Uppal and another senior police official, Surinder Pal Singh, investigating officer of the case.

The chargesheet in the case was filed on November 22, 2003, and the Badals were acquitted in 2010, when in power.

Uppal did not respond to calls and messages sent by HT.

First Published: Aug 20, 2017 09:42 IST