The Punjab Vigilance Bureau on Saturday filed a closure report in the Rs 1,144-crore alleged Ludhiana city centre scam in the court of sessions judge Gurbir Singh. As per sources, the Vigilance has given clean chit to CM Captain Amarinder Singh and 31 others booked in the scam. The closure report says ‘no evidence’ was found against the accused, said the sources. “The report cites lack of evidence as the basis for clean chit given to Captain and others,” said a source.
The court has fixed the next date of hearing on September 2, and ordered that the defence counsel also be provided copies of the closure report.District attorney Ravinder Abrol said he was not present in the court when the closure report was filed. “I am yet to see the report as I was not present when it was submitted.” Trilok Singh Sood, counsel for Captain Amarinder Singh and other accused, however, confirmed to The Indian Express that the district attorney appearing for the prosecution filed closure report in the court on Saturday. “They have filed closure report under section 173 (8) of CrPC. The court has ordered that we should be provided with copies of the closure report on September 2,” said Sood.
The Vigilance Bureau had filed a chargesheet in the case against 36 persons, including Captain, his son Raninder Singh, son-in-law Raminder Singh, former local bodies minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, former Punjab Congress president HS Hanspal and others. They were accused of favouring Delhi-based firm Today Homes for a ‘city center project’ announced by Captain in 2003, during his first tenure as chief minister.
Soon after SAD came to power in 2007, Vigilance registered a case and began a probe in the ‘scam’ alleging that the infrastructure firm received undue benefits of at least Rs 1,144 crore due to the favouritism by Captain and officials of Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT).
In all, 36 people were booked, and charged for offences under sections sections 409 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 465 (forgery), 467 (forgery of value security), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (Using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC and under sections of Prevention of Corruption Act.
Of those booked then, four have died, among them former Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) chairman Paramjit Singh Sibia. The Vigilance Bureau had listed 152 witnesses in the case but even after a decade, no charges had been framed, with the matter repeatedly adjourned in the court. The project had taken off in 2006 at a site on Pakhowal road in Ludhiana.
Amarinder claimed it was his ‘dream project’. It was announced that multiplexes, leisure parks, malls and other commercial hubs would be constructed in Ludhiana and overall it would be called ‘City Center’. The construction was stalled after the Akalis came to power, and the site is presently is in ruins.