Thursday, October 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


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Vigilance team quizzes Badal
Sukhbir appears at VB office today
Tribune News Service

Standing on the rooftop, Mr Parkash Singh Badal thanks his party activists at his residence in Chandigarh on Wednesday. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, October 8
Seemingly upbeat after being questioned by the Vigilance Bureau at his official residence here for about four hours, former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said today that the bureau team did not ask anything substantial, except a few questions here and there, about the allegations levelled against him by Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, about the amassing of huge wealth and properties.

Mr Badal’s wife, Mrs Surinder Kaur, was also questioned today. Mr Badal was questioned in a closed room and none was allowed there except vigilance officers.

Mr Badal’s son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, will appear at the bureau’s Sector 17 office tomorrow.

The bureau team was led by Mr S. Chattopadhyay, DIG, Ludhiana range. He was assisted by Mr B.K. Uppal, DIG and Mr S.P. Singh, SP, of the Economic Offences Wing of the bureau, besides Ms Anita Punj, SSP, Moga, who holds an additional charge as SP (Vigilance), Ferozepore.

The Badals were questioned in a disproportionate assets case registered against them on June 24.

The bureau team focused on the mismatch between the sources of income and expenditure, particularly during Mr Badal’s tenure as the Chief Minister. In fact, Mr Badal lampooned the Punjab Vigilance Bureau for asking questions about his ancestral properties some of which were 80 years old.

“I told the bureau officers that had I sold 24 acres of land in UP and bought seven acres at Rania, near Balasar, in Haryana during my tenure as the Chief Minister. I challenged the bureau officers to show any document pertaining to any property held by my family abroad.”

“After my replies to their queries, the bureau officers returned without achieving their target set for them by Capt Amarinder Singh,” claimed Mr Badal. Capt Amarinder Singh had alleged that Mr Badal had amassed properties and wealth worth Rs 3,500 crore. He had also stated that many of the properties such as parking lots, farms etc were owned by the Badals abroad. “There are certain clarifications to be given to the bureau about some questions. I would either myself send these clarifications to the bureau or any officer of the bureau can visit me to have these clarifications in the next few days,” Mr Badal said.

In fact, when Mr Badal’s questioning was over, Mr Sukhbir Badal came out to ensure that no hindrance was created for bureau officers by Akali workers in reaching to their cars. Mr Sukhbir Badal deputed Mr Karanbir Singh Kang, a youth wing leader, to wade through the crowd to make way for the bureau officers. Mr Chattopadhyay came out smiling.

And Mr Parkash Singh Badal was also in a cheerful mood after emerging from the room where he was questioned. Mr Badal said only 10 per cent of the questions related to the “Charge sheet” issued against me and my family by Capt Amarinder Singh shortly before the assembly elections.

Nothing was asked about the so-called properties abroad. Dismissing the entire bureau exercise as futile, Mr Badal said “I told the bureau officers that I had no faith in the bureau which was working as an extension of the Congress, a sworn enemy of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). But even then I am prepared to answer all your questions”.

Most senior leaders of the SAD and the BJP were present at Mr Badal’s residence. Mr G.S. Tohra was the first to reach there. A large number of Akali workers were also present inside the compound of the residence and outside. Many Akali workers were stopped on their way to Chandigarh from various parts of the state.

The front yard of the residence was so crowded with party workers that Mr Badal was unable to step out of the building. He had to address SAD activists from the rooftop of his house. He indicated that after the SAD regained power in Punjab, it would strike back against Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal and a few others. “Nehle te dehla marke jawab dewange”, said Mr Badal in Punjabi.

Mr Tohra said the SAD was prepared to fight the Congress the way Capt Amarinder Singh wanted.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal has given a call to party workers to turn up in large numbers when Mr Sukhbir Badal proceeds to the bureau’s office for questioning tomorrow.Back


VB to quiz Badal again
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 8
The Vigilance Bureau chief, Mr A.P. Pandey, today said that the questioning of a former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his wife, Surinder Kaur, in the disproportionate assets case, could not be completed since Mr Badal sought some time for presenting certain details and documents of certain properties owned by them. The vigilance team will get back to Mr Badal in the next three to four days to get the required data after completing questioning of the Rajya Sabha MP and his son, Mr Sukhbir Badal tomorrow.

Mr Pandey was evasive to most of the questions put by mediapersons at a press conference later in the evening. He said the details of the properties allegedly owned by the Badal family and the figures indicating the quantum of financial mismatch between sources of income and expenditure would be made available only after the investigations were completed. Mr Badal was yet to give clarification on certain properties, he said.

Answering a question on how an FIR in the corruption case was registered without any preliminary inquiry into the complaint, Mr Pandey said, “The law was very clear that if prima facie findings into the complaint find merit, a case can be registered and investigated.”

Reacting to Mr Badal’s statement that he had no faith in the Vigilance Bureau since it functioned at the dictates of the Chief Minister, Mr Pandey said the bureau was an instrument of law. “It is getting what it is looking for in this case,” he claimed. Contrary to Mr Badal’s claims that questions were not asked about his foreign properties, Mr Pandey said questions were asked and Mr Badal answered some and denied a few others.


Charge sheet by month-end: CM
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Wednesday that the state government was awaiting a reply from the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court over the setting up of fast-track courts for dealing with cases of corruption and atrocities against women.

The move is being seen as an attempt by the Amarinder government to ensure speedy trial of the cases against former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his family members and close associates who are being quizzed by the state Vigilance Bureau over alleged corruption.

The Chief Minister, who was in Delhi, said the state Vigilance Bureau was expected to frame charges against Mr Badal by the end of this month. He said while Mr Badal and his wife would be questioned at their house, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal would have to appear before the VB office.

Ridiculing Mr Badal for approaching the NHRC over alleged violation of his fundamental rights, the Chief Minister said it was a drama done to gain publicity.Back


What are sleuths looking for
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 8
According to sources the Vigilance Bureau wanted that the Badal family should explain the difference of Rs 4 crore to 5 crore in their sources of income and expenditure. The income tax and wealth tax returns documents which are available with the Bureau showed a difference of Rs 2 crore in the case of Mr Sukhbir Badal, Rs 1.5 crore in the case of Mrs Surinder Kaur Badal and Rs 1 crore in the name of Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

At the time of questioning the Bureau handed over these documents for clarification with regard to inflow and outflow of income. Mr Badal and his wife said that they would contact their income tax lawyers to answer the Bureau’s querries in this connection. The Bureau also asked the Badals to name the sources that provided about Rs 60 lakh for Balasar farm house and Rs 35 lakh for house number 256 in Sector-9 and Rs 15 lakh for continental hatchery at Mullanpur Garibdas. The Badals have promised to get back to the Bureau after checking up their records. The Bureau showed him all the documents containing facts and figures regarding his properties.

Mr Badal at one stage told the Bureau team “Main tan Jat Bandan, Jithe roti mil je uthe hi kha lainda. Sara din bahar raindan han (I am simple Jat and eats wherever food is available and live almost all the day out in the countryside being a politician)”. All the properties were managed by my wife and son.

During questioning, Mrs Surinder Kaur Badal, has been a bit aggressive and sought time to clarify certain points regarding the questions raised about her income tax and wealth returns.

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