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Laxmi Vilas Palace: Company moves HC against takeover

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The petition of Bharat Hotels Ltd, the company that owns Udaipur’s Laxmi Vilas Palace hotel, against the special CBI court’s order to the district administration to take over the hotel would come up for hearing tomorrow in Rajasthan High court.

On Friday, the counsel for Bharat Hotels Ltd PP Choudhry, who is a member of the Lok Sabha and a former Union minister, submitted the petition on behalf of Bharat Hotels. He requested the court for an urgent hearing. However, the court posted the matter for hearing on September 22.

Arun Shourie to also approach HC

It is learned that the former Union minister for disinvestment Arun Shourie will also move the Rajasthan High Court against the order of the CBI court. The CBI court had ordered to register cases against Shourie and the former Union government secretary Pradip Baijal for their involvement in the case.

It is learned that Shourie will approach the high court as his name was not in the FIR lodged by the CBI and he was not interrogated in the matter. Thus, he was not part of the so-called illegal deal.

Takeover by administration after CBI court order

Bharat Hotels Ltd, which managed the Laxmi Vilas Palace, suddenly ceased to be its owner after the CBI court’s order. Since the court has ordered its attachment and has made the Udaipur collector as the nodal agency, the Udaipur administration will work as a ‘Receiver’.

The special CBI court had ordered the take over after it found that the Laxmi Vilas Palace, once a property of the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), was fraudulently disinvested in 2004 by the NDA government.

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The special judge Pooran Kumar Sharma found that the Laxmi Vilas Palace hotel which was valued Rs 151 crore was disinvested for a mere Rs 7.52 crores to the Bharat Hotel’s Ltd by the NDA government. The court ordered that the Laxmi Vilas Palace should be restored to the Union government.

Court order registration of cases against many

The special judge found the then minister of state for disinvestment and senior journalist, Arun Shourie, then disinvestment secretary, Pradip Baijal. Ashish Kumar Guha, then CEO of Lazard India Pvt Ltd, Kanti Lal Vikramsey and the director of Bharat Hotels Jyotsana Suri guilty. The court ordered they be booked under section 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code and section 13 (1) D of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The court said that they should be summoned through arrest warrants. The date of the summons would be known once the warrants are issued.

Court passed strictures against CBI

The special court passed strictures against the CBI which even after discovering the shady deal in which the Union the government suffered a loss of Rs 252 crores and even after finding corruption in the entire deal submitted a ‘closure report’. The CBI, on a complaint in August 2014, registered an FIR. Thereafter, it filed a closure report.

 

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