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Sunday 7 June 2020

Lalu Prasad, wife, son and others summoned as accused in IRCTC scam case

Special Judge Arvind Kumar directed them to appear before the court on 31 August in a case related to alleged irregularities in granting operational contract of two IRCTC hotels to a private firm

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New Delhi: A Delhi court on Monday summoned RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi and son Tejashwi Yadav and others as accused in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) scam.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar directed them to appear before the court on 31 August in a case related to alleged irregularities in granting operational contract of two IRCTC hotels to a private firm.

The CBI, which had on 16 April filed the charge sheet in the case, had said that there was enough evidence against the accused.

The CBI had earlier informed the court that sanction has been procured from the authorities concerned to prosecute Additional Member of Railway Board B K Agarwal, who was then the group general manager of the IRCTC.

Besides Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members, former union minister Prem Chand Gupta and his wife Sarla Gupta, Agarwal, then managing director of IRCTC PK Goyal and then IRCTC director Rakesh Saxena was also named in the charge sheet.

The other names in the charge sheet include then group general managers of IRCTC VK Asthana and RK Goyal, and Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar, both directors of Sujata Hotels and owners of Chanakya Hotel.

Delight marketing company, now known as Lara Projects, and Sujata Hotels Private Limited have also been named as accused companies in the charge sheet.

The CBI had registered a case in July last year and carried out searches at 12 locations in Patna, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, and Gurugram in connection with the case. The charges in the case include criminal conspiracy (120-B), cheating (420) under IPC and corruption, the central probe agency had said.

According to the charge sheet, between 2004 and 2014, a conspiracy was hatched in pursuance of which BNR hotels of Indian Railways, located at Puri and Ranchi, were first transferred to the IRCTC and later, for its operations, maintenance and upkeep, it was given on lease to Sujata Hotel Private Limited, which is based in Patna.

It is alleged that the tender process was rigged and manipulated, and the conditions were tweaked to help the private party (Sujata Hotels).

It also claimed that Vinay Kochhar on 25 February 2005 sold commercial property in the form of three acres of land in Patna through 10 sale deeds for Rs 1.47 crore to Delight Marketing, in which Sarla Gupta was a director as a front benami holder on behalf of Lalu Prasad.

Between 2010 and 2014, this land was further transferred, the CBI alleged.

In 2001, it was decided to hand over the management of catering services of Indian Railways, including of its hotels, to the IRCTC. Two such hotels — BNR Hotels in Ranchi and Puri — were also identified and a MoU was signed between the Railways and the IRCTC on March 19, 2004.

According to an FIR filed by the CBI, Lalu Prasad Yadav, the then railway minister, entered into criminal conspiracy with the owner of Sujata hotels, Sarla Gupta, the wife of his close associate Prem Chand Gupta, an RJD MP in the Rajya Sabha, and IRCTC officials for “undue pecuniary advantage to himself and others”.

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