A Special CBI court in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district has ordered the registration of a criminal case against former Union minister Arun Shourie in connection with the sale of a luxury hotel in Rajasthan in 2002.
The court also ordered to register criminal case against retired IAS officer Pradip Baijal and three others, after prima facie finding offences such as criminal conspiracy and cheating proved against them in relation to the sale of the hotel.
The court of Special CBI Judge Pooran Kumar Sharma, in an order on September 15, rejected a closure report filed by the CBI in the matter of the sale of Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel, Udaipur, said media reports.
The court has summoned all the accused via arrest warrants.
The court said prima facie it had been proved that Shourie, during his tenure as disinvestment minister in the Vajpayee government at the Centre, and Baijal, as the secretary of the department, had “abused their posts collectively and independently”.
It caused a loss Rs 244 crore to the government of India in the sale, the court maintained.
The Special CBI court also directed the district collector of Udaipur to take possession of the hotel while appointing the officer as the receiver of the property.
The hotel is now known as The LaLit Laxmi Vilas Palace.
Former Union minister Shourie said he would appeal against the order in the Rajasthan High Court.
He expressed surprise over the charges being brought up after 18 years.
“The process of disinvestment was challenged in the Rajasthan High Court earlier and the HC said there is no evidence of any undervaluation. The CBI too had closed the case saying there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. My name was not there in the original FIR and we have no idea how it has been added now,” a media report quoted Shourie as saying.
According to the Special CBI Court order, Shourie and Baijal “criminally conspired with Bharat Hotels Ltd, Ashish Guha, Managing Director of M/s Lzard India Ltd, and Kantilal Karamsey Vikamsey of M/s Kanti Karamsey & Co to cause the Government of India a wrongful loss of Rs 244,63,91,000 and also caused a wrongful gain to the tune of the same amount to self or others”.
The court also named Jyotsna Suri, the director of Bharat Hotels as one of the accused.
In connection with the 2002 sale of the hotel, the CBI had registered an FIR on August 13, 2014.