In a decade-long case relating to transfer of Amritsar Improvement Trust (AIT) land to a private developer, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh and 17 others were Friday acquitted of corruption and related charges.
A special court in Mohali, which was hearing the case, today accepted the closure report filed by the state’s Vigilance Bureau in October 2016.
The court, however, gave a month’s time to file an appeal. Those booked in the case, which dates back to September 2008, included former Punjab Assembly Speaker Kewal Krishan and two former ministers, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh and Raghunath Shahai. The three died during the hearing of the case.
All 18 were booked under sections 420 (cheating), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as also under the Prevention of Corruption Act by the Vigilance Bureau.
After the registration of the case in September 2008, the VB had submitted the challan on February 10, 2009. The agency, however, did not frame charges against any accused. The Punjab and Haryana High court ordered the re-investigation of the case in December 2014. Captain, along with other 14 accused, was present in the court when the orders were pronounced. “I have been maintaining from the beginning and I maintain it today that this business of political vendetta wastes court’s time and money. These things should not happen. I had full faith in the judiciary and I was proved right. The justice prevailed,” he said.
The case was related to transferring of 32.1 acres of prime land of AIT to a private developer, Veer Colonizers. It was registered after the SAD-BJP government came to power in 2007. The matter was highlighted by Bir Devinder Singh, who was the deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly during Captain’s previous stint as the CM. In January this year, Bir Devinder again filed an application in the court pleading he should be made a witness in the case. After seven months, the court dismissed his application on July 11.