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Punjab: Lookout circular issued against ex-minister Manpreet Badal by Vigilance Bureau
Bathinda: A Look Out Circular (LOC) has been issued against former Punjab finance minister and Bharatiya Janta Party leader Manpreet Singh Badal at all airports by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on Tuesday.
Badal who left Congress and joined BJP in January this year is facing a criminal and corruption case in the purchase of two plots in Model Town phase-1 Bathinda.
The case was registered against him under sections 420, 467, 468, 471, and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code and section 13 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, besides the Information Technology Act.
Notably, the notice has been issued by the vigilance department to stop Manpreet Badal from leaving the country.
Earlier, Badal had sought anticipatory bail from the court to avoid arrest. A hearing on his appeal will be held in the session court of Bathinda today.
Apart from Badal, cases have been registered against four other individuals as well. So far, the Vigilance Bureau has arrested at least three accused in the case, namely Rajiv Kumar (resident of New Shakti Nagar), Amandeep Singh (resident of Lal Singh Basti), and Vikas Arora (resident of Tagore Nagar).
The case was registered on a complaint filed by Saroop Chand Singla, former MLA of Bathinda city, against Manpreet Singh Badal and others, a spokesperson of the Vigilance Bureau said.
He informed that during the probe it was found that Manpreet Singh Badal during his tenure as Finance Minister between 2018 and 2021 used political pressure and influence to purchase two plots measuring 1560 square yards of land in Model Town phase-1 Bathinda near the TV tower thereby causing a financial loss of lakhs of rupees to the state exchequer, a press release from the Vigilance Bureau of Punjab said.
The spokesperson further said, "During the investigation of complaint number 11/2022, it was found that the former Finance Minister, using his influence, colluded with the officials of Bathinda Development Authority (BDA) and misled the general public during the bidding of plots in the year 2021, and fake maps were uploaded to prevent the participation of the general public in the bidding process."
Apart from this, the plot numbers 725-C (560 square yards) and 726 (1000 square yards) in the map were also shown as commercial instead of residential and the numbers of the plots were not shown on the map on the online e-auction portal, the release said.
In addition to this, the digital signatures of Balwinder Kaur, Administrative Officer, BDA Bathinda were used for the auction of plots without her permission.
During the probe, it has also come to light that the bids of the sole three bidders namely Rajive Kumar, Vikas Arora and Amandeep Singh were made by one person Advocate Sanjiv Kumar from the same IP address and from the same place.
Apart from this, both the plots were purchased by the bidders in 2021 at a lower rate which was fixed during an auction in the year 2018 causing a financial loss of about Rs 65 lakh to the government, the release said.
The former finance minister of Punjab had purchased both plots through agreements from the bidders known to him before they got allotment letters from BDA Bathinda. It was also found that Manpreet Singh Badal has transferred 25 per cent earnest money in advance to the successful allottees which shows his connivance with the bidders.
He further informed that the VB has been hunting for the arrest of other accused and involvement of other accused would also be probed during the further investigation, the release said.