IRCTC case: Centre allows prosecution of railway official

New Delhi [India], July 25 (ANI): In yet another major blow to Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Railway Ministry has granted sanction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute one of its top officials allegedly involved in the hotels-for-land scam that took place during the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief's tenure as railway minister in 2006. The Central Vigilance Commission which is empowered to inquire into charges against public servants, has advised grant of prosecution under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act against additional member of railway board B.K. Agarwal, who was then group general manager of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). The CBI on April 16 filed a chargesheet against Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and 14 others as part of an investigation in the IRCTC hotel tender case. Along with the RJD supremo and his wife, the chargesheet was filed against a Delhi-based private company, two Directors of a private hotel company, a private person, the then Managing Director of IRCTC, a Member of Parliament, and other officials from various departments under the IRCTC. As per the CVC note, "As regards the conspiracy and connivance aspect, Shri Ashwani Kumar Bhatia of M/s Dinanath Hotels Pvt Ltd confessed under Section 164 of CrPC that there was pressure to quote a particular amount and that he fell in line, while Shri Agarwal may not be part of the pressurization activity, he certainly played a devious part in evaluating the bid of M/s Sujata Hotels in such a way that M/s Sujata Hotels is qualified." In June, a Delhi court had granted one month time to the CBI to procure sanction from concerned authorities to prosecute the accused. The court directed the CBI to get the required nod and prosecute B.K. Agarwal. The Delhi court is expected to hear the matter on Friday. Earlier, an investigation in the matter revealed that Lalu Prasad 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. It was further alleged that in consideration of this undue favour, a high-value prime commercial land at Patna was sold by the proprietors to a company being run by a close aide of Lalu Prasad. Later, this company was taken over by family members of Lalu Prasad, after which the land reached the hands of his family members at a nominal cost.
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