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Amarinder’s expulsion
Case goes to bench
R. Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 11
A five-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will hear the case relating to the expulsion of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh from the Punjab Assembly as it involves interpretation of Article 194 of the Constitution, which deals with the powers, privileges and immunities of lawmakers.

A three-Judge Bench headed by Justice B.N. Agarwal today referred Amarinder's petition to Chief Justice K.G.Balakrishnan for setting up the Constitution Bench after senior counsel K Parasaran, appearing for the former CM, questioned the powers of the Punjab Assembly to expel his client on September 10 last year.

The Captain was thrown out the House for the remaining period of the five-year term for his alleged involvement in the Amritsar Tmprovement Trust Land Exemption scam when he was the Chief Minister.

Parasaran contended that the assembly had assumed the powers of the investigator, judiciary, executive and the legislature while expelling and initiating action against Amarinder.

In fact, the House was not even competent to penalise Amarinder for breach of privilege, citing the charges of corruption, which had nothing to do with privileges.

“During the hearing, we are satisfied that interpretation of Article 194 and other related provisions of the Constitution of India is required for the disposal of the present cases. In terms of Article 145(3), this interpretation needs to be done by a Bench of five Judges. Let these cases be placed before the Chief Justice of India for appropriate orders,” the Bench ruled shortly after the counsel had resumed his arguments. Justices GS Singhvi and Aftab Alam were the other two judges on the Bench.

No assembly could expel its member for breach of privilege allegedly committed during his tenure in the previous House and if this was possible, ruling parties would be able to throw out several members on the charge of committing such violations even decades ago.

Explaining his contention that the assembly had assumed the powers of the other wings of democracy, counsel Parasaran said the expulsion resolution had asked the Vigilance Department to find out where his client had stashed away the ill-gotten wealth.

This meant, the House had already arrived at the conclusion that his client had taken bribe, which could be done only by the investigator at the initial stage and later by the judiciary. By asking the vigilance to investigate, the House had assumed the role of the executive, he explained.

The privileges of the House were finalised afresh after every Assembly poll to the new House to keep all privileges that were available to the members of the previous House or to make changes to enable the MLAs to function on the floor without any extraneous interference.

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VB: Father, son used defunct company to launder funds
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
The Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, has booked former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his son Raninder Singh in a fresh case of corruption and cheating.

The bureau has discovered the existence of a defunct company being run by the father-son duo since the 1970s, which was revived in 2002 when Amarinder became the Chief Minister. This company was then allegedly used to route and launder bribe money, evade income tax and obtain “wrongful gain” worth crores from a nationalised bank.

The names of Omaxe Construction Company, Bank of Baroda, Indian Overseas Bank and a Ludhiana-based businessman Naresh Malhotra also figure in the FIR registered this evening following an inquiry report filed by Sandeep Goel, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Patiala .

The company Teg Masrado, a unit for canning and exporting mushrooms, was started by the father-son team in 1975. Amarinder Singh is the managing director of the company while Raninder Singh is the joint director. The company’s registered office is at Moti Bagh, Patiala.

The company remained in the red for most of the period of its existence — running a liability of Rs 14 crore in 2002 — but saw a flurry of activity after it collaborated with a host of Kolkata-based companies from whom it gathered crores of “share application money”.

A physical crosscheck on these companies conducted by the bureau revealed that these companies had offices in ramshackle cubicles in Kolkata and some of the persons shown as directors of these companies were poor street dwellers.

The FIR lodged by the bureau states that one such director Kamal Barik was a street vendor and sold clothes on a footpath in Howrah.

The VB has listed seven such companies which gave application money worth Rs 3.3 crore for shares of Teg Masrado during 2005-06. VB officials added that other than Amarinder’s company, these mere “postal address” outfits were used by scores of politicians and businessmen across India to launder ill-gotten wealth.

The crores pumped into Teg Masrado as share money was then given as “advance” to Amarinder Singh and used to set up a shooting range in village Main Patiala, buying cars and financing expensive travels.

The FIR also states that in 2006, Amarinder used his influence to settle his company’s dues with the Bank of Baroda. The company owed the bank Rs 14 crore but this huge liability was settled in active connivance of the bank officials for Rs 1.3 crore. This payment was made by Malhotra who raised a loan from Indian Overseas Bank, Patiala, where the company had its accounts.

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