Saturday, October 26, 2013

Former CJI Lahoti appointed sole arbitrator in Ludhiana City Centre scam

CHANDIGARH: Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) R C Lahoti has been appointed as sole arbitrator in the Ludhiana City Centre scam, involving crores of rupees and in which former CM Amarinder Singh and other Congress leaders are allegedly involved. Orders on Justice Lahoti\'s appointment were made by the Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday.

The arbitrator will resolve the dispute between the Ludhiana Improvement Trust and Today Homes and Infrastructure Private Limited. A bench of the high court headed by Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul passed these orders while deciding the issue, which was sent to it by the Supreme Court (SC).

The apex court in 2008 had quashed order to appoint Justice Lahoti as sole arbitrator to decide the dispute and the matter was sent back to the high court for taking a decision.

The contract for constructing a shopping mall was awarded to Today Homes and Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, which was supposed to pay Rs 371.12 crore to Ludhiana Improvement Trust for construction of the city centre on 25.59 acres land. The land was handed over to the company on May 24, 2005.

As per the agreement, entire money received from bookings of the area to be sold, was to be deposited in an escrow account with HDFC Bank, out of which 30% was to go to the account of the trust and remaining 70% was to be received by the company, for the development of the city centre.

Later, there were allegations that underhand dealings were being resorted to and up to 70% of the total amount payable by those who had booked space in the city centre was received in cash and only 30% received as cheques was being deposited in the escrow account, resulting in huge revenue losses to the Punjab government.

Importantly, the case had rocked the state and was the rallying point in the February 2007 assembly elections, which saw Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD-BJP combine win the polls. Later, the Punjab vigilance bureau had booked former CM Capt Amarinder, former local bodies minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh and others on various charges relating to the alleged scam. They are facing trial before the Ludhiana court.
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