|The Patiala Court on Monday will hear an important case pertaining to the charge sheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate against former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family, who are accused in the IRCTC Scam case.|
The ED has said that it has enough evidence to charge Lalu, his wife, Rabri, and Tejashwi Yadav, along with former minister Premchandra Gupta and his wife Sarla, as well as former IRCTC Managing Director BK Agarwal.
The CBI, too, is investigating the case and in April this year, said it had enough evidence to implicate the Yadav family in the case.
On August 31, a Delhi court granted bail to Rabri Devi and Tejashwi Yadav in the case. The court granted bail to Rabri and Tejashwi Yadav on a personal bond of Rs lakh and one surety of the like amount.
Special judge Arun Bharadwaj also issued a production warrant against Lalu, who is currently serving time in jail for his role in the fodder scam, to appear in October.
The CBI had registered a case in July last year and carried out searches at 12 locations in Patna, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar and Gurgaon 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 the 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 February 25, 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 handover the management of catering services of the Indian Railways, including of its hotels, to the IRCTC. Two such hotels -- BNR Hotels in Ranchi and Puri -- were also identified and an MoU was signed between the railways and the IRCTC on March 19, 2004.
According to an FIR flied by the CBI, Lalu Prasad, 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".
The probe agency also alleged that BNR hotels were transferred to Sujata Hotels through a rigged and manipulated tender process managed by P K Goel, the then managing director of IRCTC.
The CBI enquiry shows that the railways sought bids for developing, operating and maintaining Rail Ratna Hotels on September 16, 2006.
The probe agency has alleged that Lalu Prasad, as railway minister, was aware about the whole process and was keeping a track of the tender proceedings. It surfaced that while over 15 bid documents were received for both the hotels, IRCTC has no records of bidders other than the Sujata Hotels.
It was also alleged that with an intention to render undue pecuniary gains to Sujata Hotels, the bid of another hotel was deliberately and unreasonably given low marks under technical evaluation.
"As a result, Sujata Hotels remained the only bidder in financial evaluation and was qualified," the CBI has alleged, adding that after the tender was awarded to Sujata Hotels, the ownership of Delight marketing also changed hands from Sarla Gupta to Rabri Devi and Tejashwi Yadav between 2010 and 2014.
By this time, Lalu Prasad had demitted the office of railway minister.
Lalu Prasad became chief minister in 1990 but had to resign in 1997 following corruption charges in the multi-crore rupees fodder scam.
From 1997 to 2005 his wife Rabri Devi ruled as the Chief Minister of the state and was replaced by Nitish Kumar as chief minister.
Lalu Prasad also served as Union railway minister from 2004 to 2009.
The RJD again came back to power after forging an alliance with its bitter rival JD(U), led by Nitish Kumar in 2015 and Tejashwi Yadav became deputy chief minister.
However, Kumar parted ways from RJD in July 2017 marking the end of Tejashwi's tenure as deputy CM.