New Delhi: RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Monday again skipped questioning by the CBI, the second time in a month, in a case against him and his son Tejashwi Yadav over alleged irregularities in issuing contracts for two IRCTC hotels in 2006 to a private company.
Lalu Prasad’s advocate, through a letter, informed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday afternoon that his client would not be able to join the investigation in response to the summons issued on September 22 seeking his presence at the CBI headquarters here.
“His advocate submitted a letter to us on behalf of the leader seeking two weeks’ time to appear before the investigators in the IRCTC case,” a CBI official said.
The CBI on September 22 issued fresh summons to Lalu Prasad and his son to appear before the agency on September 25 and 26.
Earlier, the CBI summoned the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief and his son, the former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, on September 7 to report at its headquarters in Lodhi Road area of south Delhi for questioning on September 11 and 12.
The CBI had on July 5 filed a corruption case against Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and Tejashwi Yadav for alleged irregularities when Lalu Prasad was the Railway Minister from 2004 to 2009.
The contracts for two Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) hotels at Ranchi and Puri were handed over to Sujata Hotels company owned by Vijay and Vinay Kochhar in lieu of an alleged bribe in the form of a plot of prime land in Bihar, the CBI said.
According to the CBI, Lalu Prasad allegedly granted illegal favours to Sujata Hotels through the IRCTC, and the tender process for the development, maintenance, and operation of the two hotels was manipulated in exchange for the three-acre plot in Patna where a mall is coming up.
The CBI, which registered the case under charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating under the Indian Penal Code and sections of Prevention of the Corruption Act, claimed that the kickbacks were paid through a ‘benami’ company owned by Sarla Gupta, wife of RJD MP Prem Chand Gupta.
The CBI FIR alleged that Vinay Kochhar sold three acres of land in Patna through 10 sale deeds on February 25, 2005, for Rs 1.47 crore to Delight Marketing Company in which Sarla Gupta was a Director.
The FIR alleged that the land was sold at a price below circle and market rates and was falsely shown as agricultural land to evade substantial stamp duty.
During the CBI’s preliminary inquiry, the agency purportedly found that the said land was sold by the Kochhars to Delight Marketing, and payment was arranged through Ahluwalia Contractors and its promoter Bikramjeet Singh Ahluwalia.
The Enforcement Directorate, which is also probing the financial irregularities in the case, have questioned Ahluwalia and also summoned Sujata Hotels owners for questioning.
The ED had, on July 27, registered a separate case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act following the CBI FIR and is probing allegations against Lalu Prasad and others for alleged transaction of money through shell companies.