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Top Punjab government functionary arrested for graft

Thursday May 05, 2011 09:33:02 PM, IANS

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Chandigarh: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Thursday arrested Punjab's chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Raj Khurana from his official residence here on charges of corruption. It said that more officials could be involved in the bribery case.

An association had complained to the CBI that Devinder Singh Bittu, a senior official of the registrar, firms and societies department of the state government, had asked for a bribe of Rs.2 crore for settling a case pending against them.

Bittu was arrested Thursday morning.

While arguing in the CBI special court here Thursday evening, the investigation agency's lawyer said that there is a possibility of involvement of Punjab Industries Minister Manoranjan Kalia in the case.

"The accused (Bittu) had told the complainant that he would get the work done through Punjab minister Manoranjan Kalia. CBI officials are probing into it," counsel P.C. Dogra said.

Special CBI Judge Ritu Tagore sent Khurana and Bittu to two days' police remand.

"We had received a complaint from the secretary of an association that Devinder Singh had demanded a bribe of Rs.2 crore from him to close an old case," a CBI official said Thursday.

"Devinder threatened that in case the bribe was not paid, the control of the association will be taken over by the government and a criminal case would be registered against its office-bearers," the official added.

"Devinder told the complainant that he had approached a Punjab minister through Khurana for closing the case. The bribe amount was to be delivered at the residence of Khurana. Subsequently, we laid a trap and arrested both Khurana and Devinder. Raids were conducted at their respective houses. Both have been booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act," he added.

CBI officials said initially Bittu demanded a bribe of Rs.2 crore but the deal was finally struck for Rs.1.5 crore.

Khurana was arrested from his house around 7 a.m. Thursday after the raid at his residence in the high-security ministerial bungalow complex in Sector 39 that began Wednesday and continued through the night.

An expensive Porsche car, and nearly Rs.15 lakh in cash and cheques were found from his house.

"The CBI found cash and other documents from the Porsche car and nothing was seized from the house," a close aide of Khurana told IANS.

Khurana, who represents Rajpura constituency in the Punjab assembly, is the chief parliamentary secretary, finance, in the BJP-Akali Dal coalition government led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. A CPS enjoys all ministerial perks in the government.

"Our investigation is on and we will divulge some more big names who are involved in this case in the coming days," a CBI source said.








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