Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday welcomed the acceptance of the cancellation report by the court in the Amritsar Improvement Trust case as a victory for truth, which had proved that the charges were nothing but a fabrication of the previous regime to further their agenda of political vendetta.He was reacting after the Mohali court accepted the Vigilance report that found all the 15 accused, including Captain Amarinder Singh, innocent in the 2008 case. Three of the total of 18 accused had since died.The judicial verdict followed a further investigation ordered by the High Court, whereby the Vigilance Bureau had found that there was “no undue favour granted to any developer and the exemption was as per the government’s ‘first come first served’ policy decision, while considering the claim of the developer for grant of license,” and sought cancellation of the FIR against all the accused.Captain Amarinder Singh said the entire case was clearly politically motivated from the outset. As many as 500 hearings were held in the case, which caused a lot of inconvenience not only to him but also the general public, the Chief Minister told mediapersons outside the court premises after the verdict was pronounced this morning.
“Such things (political vendettas) should not happen, they are not healthy for democracy,” said Captain Amarinder Singh.To a question, he said the Vigilance Bureau was not to be blamed. On the cancellation report, he pointed out it was originally filed under the erstwhile SAD-BJP regime, after the Bureau reinvestigated the matter on court orders.“I had no role to play in the cancellation,” he said, adding that it was done on merit.The Chief Minister’s lawyer A P S Deol said justice had prevailed and their faith in the judiciary had been redeemed. It had been proved that there was no value in the case, he said. In response to a query, he clarified that there was no scope for appeal in the case as no charges had been framed.Earlier, Additional Session Judge Jaswinder Singh, in his brief verdict, read out the allegations in the case and concluded by saying that the “second investigation carried out was correct….the court accepts the cancellation report.”At the centre of the allegations in the case was an executive decision taken by the Urban Development and Housing Department in the Captain Amarinder Singh led government, during its previous tenure (2002-2007), to grant license to a colonizer to promote development in Punjab.
Since the colonizer had applied for license prior to the notification by the Amritsar Improvement Trust for land acquisition, therefore, as per the government’s policy decision, the license was granted to him on ‘first come first served’ basis. However, the opposition parties at that time had objected, alleging that the exemption was not as per government policy and it had favoured an individual.After the Akali government took over, a committee, Harish Dhanda, was set up by the Vidhan Sabha and it comprised all Akali MLAs. Even former ministers Raghunath Sahai Puri, Ch. Jagjit Singh and speaker, Kewal Kishan, were made accused in the case.The Harish Dhanda committee had submitted a 95-page report recommending disqualification of Captain Amarinder Singh from the House for the remaining term, besides inquiry to be conducted and report to be submitted to the Speaker within two months for custodial interrogation.
These recommendations were challenged in the Supreme Court, which set aside the disqualification, terming it a procedural blunder in granting prosecution of a political opponent for taking an executive decision. The court had said that the observations and findings recorded by the committee should not be taken into consideration and an independent investigation be carried out under the CrPC, as per law.The matter was re-investigated and it was revealed that no loss has occurred to the exchequer in granting exemption with respect to 32 acres of land. In fact, the rate of land fixed by the acquisition collector was much lower than the one offered by the colonizer, thus resulting in additional revenue for the department. The exemption was found to have been granted under section 56 of Punjab Town Improvement Trust Act, after obtaining NOC from the Improvement Trust as per government policy. Hence a cancellation report was filed and accepted by the court.