‘Ex-Railway Minister’ Lalu Prasad booked for 2006 deal

Days after BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi accused the RJD chief of acquiring benami property, CBI filed a case for ‘cheating’ and ‘conspiracy’ against Lalu Yadav in deal dating back to 2006

Photo by Parwaz Khan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Parwaz Khan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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NH Web Desk

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday carried out searches at 12 locations after registering a corruption case against former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members including his son Deputy Chief Minister of the eastern Indian state of Bihar Tejashwi Yadav

The searches started at seven in the morning and were spread out at 12 locations in Patna, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar and Gurugram, Additional Director CBI Rakesh Asthana said at a press conference. “The case is of criminal conspiracy (120-B), cheating (420) under IPC and corruption,” Asthana said.

He said 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 on for its operations, maintenance and upkeep, they were handed over on lease to a private firm Sujata Hotel Pvt Ltd based in Patna. Asthana, however, did not clarify whether the decision had the approval of the Railway Board. Lalu Yadav claimed it had.

“Allegation is that during this process, tender was rigged and manipulated and conditions were tweaked to help the private party (Sujata Hotel). In return, three acre land in western Patna was given to Delight Marketing which is known to the family of Lalu Yadav at a very low cost and subsequently between the period 2010 to 2014, this land was further transferred to another company Lara Projects owned by family members of Lalu Yadav,” he said.

Whereas the land was valued at 32 crore as per the circle rate, it was transferred for ₹65 lakh to Lara Projects, Asthana said.

He said this case was registered on July 5 after carrying out a preliminary enquiry. The CBI has registered the case against 69-year-old Lalu Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi, son Tejashwi Yadav and Sarla Gupta, wife of Prem Chand Gupta, former union minister.

Others named as accused in the FIR include Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar, both directors of Sujata Hotels and owner of Chanakya Hotel, Delight marketing company, now known as Lara Projects, and the then IRCTC Managing Director P K Goel.

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

Lalu Yadav, the then railway minister, is accused of entering into a criminal conspiracy with owners of Sujata hotels, Sarla Gupta, wife of his close associate Prem Chand Gupta (an RJD MP in Rajya Sabha) and IRCTC officials for “undue pecuniary advantage to himself and others”, the CBI FIR alleges.

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

The FIR alleged that the land was sold to the company at a price which was below circle rates and market rates and was falsely shown as agriculture land to evade substantial stamp duty.

It was disclosed during the preliminary enquiry of the CBI that the land was sold by the Kochhars to Delight and the payment for the same was arranged "surreptitiously" by the company in the form of investment of Delight through Ahluwalia contractors and its promoter Bikramjeet Singh Ahluwalia.

“On the day when the sale deeds were executed by the Kochhars in favour of DMCL on February 25, 2005, the Railway Board on the same day informed IRCTC about its decision for transfer of BNR hotels to IRCTC on “as is where is basis”, the FIR alleged.

With inputs from PTI

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