The court said prima facie it appears that the then minister Arun Shourie and the then secretary Pradeep Baijal misused their positions and caused a loss of Rs 244 crore to the exchequer in the deal.
Jodhpur| Orders have been given to register an FIR against Arun Shourie, who was a minister in the Vajpayee government. A special CBI court in Jodhpur has ordered a criminal case against Arun Shourie, former disinvestment secretary Pradeep Baijal and three others in 2002 for alleged corruption and fraud in a government-run hotel.
Special CBI Judge Puran Kumar Sharma also ordered that the Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel in Udaipur be handed over to the state government. The court has given this order in the case of selling of Laxmi Vilas Hotel at a much lower price than the market price during Atal Bihari Vajpayee govt. The hotel was earlier run by the Tourism Development Corporation of India, but in 2002 it was sold to Bharat Hotels Limited, which now runs the Lalit Group of Hotels.
The judge gave this order while hearing a CBI closure report in the case of alleged loss of Rs 244 crores to the government from the sale of the hotel. The CBI report stated that there was no evidence to initiate prosecution against the accused in the disinvestment process.
However, the court disagreed with the central agency CBI’s argument in the case and criticized it for presenting a closure report. The court said prima facie it appears that the then minister Arun Shourie and the then secretary Pradeep Baijal misused their positions and caused a loss of Rs 244 crore to the exchequer in the deal. The court said that they should be summoned through arrest warrant. Also, the court ordered the Udaipur district collector to take possession of the hotel immediately.
Arun Shourie was the Union Minister of Communications, Information Technology and Disinvestment in the then government led by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during 1999-2004.
The CBI filed an FIR on August 13, 2014, alleging that Baijal misused his official position on the basis of preliminary investigation and criminal conspiracy in the disinvestment of the Lakshmi Vilas Palace Hotel. According to the FIR, the hotel was initially valued at Rs 252 crore. But in the end it was disinvested for Rs 7.52 crore.