Delhi Court, today granted a bail to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad‘s wife Rabri Devi, son Tejashwi Yadav and other accused in the IRCTC money laundering case.
The court was hearing a case related to alleged irregularities in granting operational contract of two Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) hotels to a private firm.
The Patiala House Court granted a regular bail to the accused who were present at the hearing.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had opposed the bail plea saying ‘regular bail will hamper the case investigation’.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled on 19th November. Accused Lalu Yadav will appear via video conferencing.
Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate had said that it had enough evidence to charge Lalu, his wife, Rabri, and Tejashwi Yadav, along with former minister Premchandra Gupta and his wife Sarla, as well as former IRCTC Managing Director BK Agarwal.
The CBI, too, is investigating the case and in April this year, said it had enough evidence to implicate the Yadav family in the case.
The CBI had registered a case in July last year and carried out searches at 12 locations in Patna, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar and Gurgaon in connection with the case.
The charges in the case include criminal conspiracy (120-B), cheating (420) under IPC and corruption, the central probe agency had said.
According to the charge sheet, between 2004 and 2014, a conspiracy was hatched in pursuance of which BNR hotels of the Indian Railways, located at Puri and Ranchi, were first transferred to the IRCTC and later, for its operations, maintenance and upkeep, it was given on lease to Sujata Hotel Private Limited, which is based in Patna.
It is alleged that the tender process was rigged and manipulated, and the conditions were tweaked to help the private party (Sujata Hotels).
It also claimed that Vinay Kochhar on February 25, 2005, sold commercial property in the form of three acres of land in Patna through 10 sale deeds for Rs 1.47 crore to Delight Marketing, in which Sarla Gupta was a director as a front benami holder on behalf of Lalu Prasad.
Between 2010 and 2014, this land was further transferred, the CBI alleged.
In 2001, it was decided to handover the management of catering services of the Indian Railways, including of its hotels, to the IRCTC. Two such hotels BNR Hotels in Ranchi and Puri were also identified and an MoU was signed between the railways and the IRCTC on March 19, 2004.
According to an FIR filed by the CBI, Lalu Prasad, the then railway minister, entered into criminal conspiracy with the owner of Sujata hotels, Sarla Gupta, the wife of his close associate Prem Chand. Gupta, an RJD MP in the Rajya Sabha, and IRCTC officials for “undue pecuniary advantage to himself and others”.
The probe agency also alleged that BNR hotels were transferred to Sujata Hotels through a rigged and manipulated tender process managed by P K Goel, the then managing director of IRCTC.>