IRCTC hotels case: CBI charge-sheets Lalu, Rabri, Tejashwi

Elias Hubbard
April 17, 2018

The CBI on Monday filed a charge sheet against former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and others in connection with a railway-IRCTC hotels' maintenance contract case.

"Those who have been named in the chargesheet include Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi, Tejaswi, close confidant of RJD chief and former union Minister Prem Chand Gupta, his wife Sarla Gupta, Sujata Hotels, its owners Vinay and Vijay Kochhar, LARA projects, then Managing Director (IRCTC) P K Goel, then Director Rakesh Saxena and then Group General Manager B K Agarwal of IRCTC".

On April 10, the CBI had grilled Rabri Devi for hours in Patna in connection with the case.

The contracts were given to Sujata Hotels, a company owned by Vijay and Vinay Kochhar - both named in the CBI FIR as accused - in lieu of bribe in the form of a three-acre commercial plot at a prime location in Patna district, the CBI said.

The CBI registered the case previous year, alleging that the maintenance contracts for two IRCTC hotels in Ranchi and Puri were awarded to the Patna-based Sujata Hotels by tweaking the conditions. Delight marketing company, now known as Lara Projects, and Sujata Hotels Private Limited, have also been named as accused companies in the charge sheet.

IRCTC was created by railways in 1999.

Subsequently, maintenance contracts of the two hotels were given to Sujata Hotels, it is alleged. 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 was sworn in as Railway Minister in May 2004.

A preliminary CBI inquiry reportedly found that the said land was sold by the Kochhars to one Delight Marketing Company and payment was arranged through Ahluwalia Contractors and its promoter Bikramjeet Singh Ahluwalia, another accused in the case.

The director of Delight Marketing was Sarla Gupta, the wife of Prem C Gupta. Mr. Agarwal is now additional member, Railway Board.

The investigation revealed that Lalu had entered into a conspiracy with the proprietors of a private hotel based at Patna and others, and in pursuant to the said conspiracy, managed undue favours to them through certain officers of the IRCTC, New Delhi, in exchange for the leasing of existing Railway Hotels at Ranchi and Puri. The circle rate of the property was Rs 32.5 crore whereas the market rate was Rs 94 crore. Later, this company was taken over by family members of Lalu, after which the land reached the hands of his family members at a nominal/unreasonable cost.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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