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Amritsar Trust Scam
Capt, Ch Jagjit chargesheeted
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, has filed a charge sheet against 16 persons, including former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and former Minister for Local Government Chaudhri Jagjit Singh, in connection with the Amritsar Improvement Trust land-exemption scam.

The others who have been chargesheeted under various sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) include former chairman of the trust Jugal Kishore Sharma, former chief town planner, Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), KK Kaul, former secretary of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Nachattar Singh Mavi and his former under secretary Tara Singh.

The six trustees of the improvement trust, coloniser Subhash Chand, who was allegedly a beneficiary along with his three directors Vicky, Rohit and Gurcharan Singh, have also been chargesheeted.

The 16 accused have been summoned to the court on March 4. The bureau had registered the case in September 2008 following a report of the committee of the Vidhan Sabha that had indicted several persons, including the former Chief Minister and the Minister for Local Government, for having caused a loss of about Rs 130 crore to the state. None of the accused were arrested by the bureau. Seven of the accused, including the minister, are on anticipatory bail.

In the charge sheet submitted before the special court of SK Garg in the Mohali court today, it has been alleged that the former Chief Minister and the minister had, despite several notings of the then principal secretary, local government, BR Bajaj, and the then director, local government, G Vajralingam, gone out of their way to exempt the acquisition of land belonging to Veer Colonisers.

The colonisers had demanded exemption from acquisition of their 32.1 acres from a 188-acre township scheme mooted by the improvement trust in 2004. Their request was rejected by the then chief of the trust, Ratna, who went ahead with the acquisition process. She was, however, removed as the chairperson of the trust and replaced with Sharma.

When the request for exemption reached the minister, he overruled the objections raised by the principal secretary and the director and approved the exemption on September 21, 2005. The bureau alleged that the minister got the signatures of the Chief Minister on the file personally the same day and sent it to the principal secretary as the fileís movement was entered into the Chief Ministerís office log the next day.

Despite the Chief Ministerís approval, the then principal secretary again noted his objection on the file and the minister sent the file back to the trust with the instruction that a fresh resolution on the issue be passed. The trust led by Sharma and including Rajiv Bhagat, Mahesh Khana, Baljit Singh, Ashwani Kale Shah, Rajinder Sharma and Parminder Tung cleared the request for exemption. The final approval for exemption was granted to the coloniser in 2006 by the minister and the CM.

Vigilance sources said the PUDA CTP Kaul gave a no-objection certificate to the coloniser approving their maps for development of the area. The development plans mooted by the coloniser violated the conditions laid down by the trust for them.

The secretary and the under secretary of the Vidhan Sabha have been chargesheeted with tampering of office records. They allegedly added some words on an order of the Speaker that led to a change in the meaning of the Speakerís statement due to which the setting up of the inquiry committee was delayed.

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IAS among 65 witnesses

There are 65 persons, including at least 10 senior bureaucrats, cited as witnesses in the charge sheet. The IAS officers who will be deposing in the court in this case against their former political boss include Suresh Kumar, the then principal secretary to Capt Amarinder Singh and now secretary, power and irrigation, BR Bajaj (retd), KBS Sidhu, principal secretary, education, DS Bains, principal secretary, local government, AR Talwar, principal secretary, health, Som Prakash, chief administrator, PUDA, G Vajralingam, MD, PFC, and Sameer Kumar. Two PCS officers, Darshan Singh and Gurmeet Singh, will also be deposing in this case.

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