New Delhi (PTI) The CBI today carried out searches at the residence of former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and 11 other locations after registering a case of corruption against the RJD chief and his family.
It is alleged that Yadav as Railway Minister handed over maintenance of two Railway hotels BNR Ranchi and Puri to Sujata Hotel (a company owned by Vinay and Vijay Kochhar) after receiving a bribe in the form of prime land of three acres through a benami company.
The FIR alleged that Lalu Prasad Yadav as railway minister abused his official position for extending undue favours to Kochhars, acquired a “high value premium land” through a benami company Delight and as a quid pro quo, dishonestly and fraudulently managed award of leasing BNRs at Ranchi and Puri to the company of Kochhars.
The CBI has registered the case against Lalu Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi, son Tejashwi Yadav, now Deputy CM Bihar, 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 Managing Director P K Goel.
In 2001, a decision was taken to handover 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, entered into 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 alleged.
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 Rs 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 Ahluwali 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.
The BNR hotels were transferred to Sujata Hotels through a rigged and manipulated tender process managed by P K Goel, the then MD IRCTC, the CBI alleged.
The CBI enquiry shows that Railway sought bids for developing, operating and maintaining Rail Ratna Hotels on September 16, 2006.
To “restrict” competition for BNR hotels in Ranchi and Puri, the IRCTC officials issued a corrigendum making a reference about commencement of sale for bid documents for BNR hotels, it alleged.
The conditions were further tweaked through another corrigendum in order to make Sujata Hotel contender for the bid, the agency alleged.
The CBI has alleged that Yadav, as Railway Minister, was aware about the whole process and was keeping a track of the tender proceedings.
It surfaced while over 15 bid documents were received for both the hotels, IRCTC has no records of bidders other than Sujata Hotels.
It is also alleged that with an intention to render undue pecuniary gains to Sujata hotels, bid of another hotel was deliberately and unreasonably given low marks under technical evaluation.
“As a result, Sujata Hotel remained the only bidder in financial evaluation and was qualified,” it alleged.
After the tender was awarded to Sujata Hotel, the ownership of Delight marketing also changed hands from Sarla Gupta to Rabri Devi and Tejaswi Yadav between 2010 and 2014.
By this time Lalu Prasad Yadav had demitted the office of Railway Minister.
The value of property which was sold by Kochhars to Delight Marketing at 1.47 crore in 2005 had spiralled to Rs 32.5 crore as per circle rate and Rs 94 crore as per market rate.
“The shares of a company having a networth of Rs 32.5 crore was transferred by the family member of P C Gupta to the family members of Lalu Prasad Yadav for a nominal amount of Rs 64 lakh,” it alleged.