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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Laxmi Vilas hotel case: Arun Shourie furnishes personal bonds in CBI court, HC to hear case today

Shourie was Union disinvestment minister in the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government when the ITDC property was sold in 2002.

By: Express News Service | Jaipur | Updated: October 15, 2020 1:17:12 am
Arun Shourie interview: ‘Focus on what can be done now — to improve governance, the life of people’Arun Shourie, was the minister in charge of divestment when the property, owned by the public sector India Tourism Development Corporation, was sold to Bharat Hotels Ltd, a private company.

Former Union minister Arun Shourie appeared before a special CBI court in Jodhpur on Wednesday and furnished personal bonds in compliance with a September 23 order of Rajasthan High Court related to the case on sale of Udaipur’s Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel in 2002.

Shourie was Union disinvestment minister in the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government when the ITDC property was sold in 2002.

Shourie told reporters in Jodhpur that both the CBI, in its closure report, as well as an earlier judgment of a division bench of High Court had concluded that there were no procedural violations in the sale of the hotel.

He said: “The CBI has filed two closure reports. There is a judgment of the Rajasthan High Court by a division bench of two judges — that there hasn’t been any procedural violations or undervaluation. This (case) started once again in 2014 with an anonymous complaint and since then the CBI has said twice in its closure report that there is no case, mentioning 14 points as reasons of why no case can be made out.”

On the disinvestment process, Shourie said, “We had adopted a very strict procedure under the monitoring of Atal-ji (Vajpayee). It was the direction of Atal-ji that everything will be (done) in an inter-ministerial committee, then will go to the Committee of Secretary, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, and then to the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment, presided over by the Prime Minister himself.” He said that besides him, members of the committee included then ministers L K Advani, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Jaitley, among others.

Shourie added that he had to come to Jodhpur to appear before the court despite his poor health conditions, and leaving behind his wife and son who are dependent on him.

On September 23, the High Court had granted interim relief from arrest to Shourie and asked him to appear before the CBI court by October 15 and furnish a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and two sureties of Rs 1 lakh each.

His counsel Pradeep Shah told The Indian Express on Wednesday: “Mr Shourie appeared before the special CBI court in Jodhpur today. In compliance with the High Court order, Mr Shourie has filed personal bonds and sureties for his appearance, if any, to be fixed by the trial court.”

The case is scheduled to be heard by Rajasthan High Court on Thursday.

On September 15, the CBI court in Jodhpur had ordered that a criminal case be registered against Shourie, then disinvestment secretary Pradip Baija; Ashish Guha of the financial advisory firm Lzard India Ltd; Bharat Hotels managing director Jyotsna Suri; and Kantilal Karamsey Vikamsey, proprietor of valuer Kanti Karamsey and Co.

The court had summoned all of them through arrest warrants.

The CBI had concluded in its closure report submitted to the court that evidence worth launching prosecution had not been found in the entire process of disinvestment of the hotel. The CBI court had rejected this closure report.

The High Court granted interim relief from arrest to all parties after they appealed against the CBI court’s order.

The High Court had observed that prima facie the special CBI court was not justified in issuing the arrest warrants.

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