The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into allegations of 28 crore compensation in a land acquisition case by filing false affidavits by family members of a former lieutenant general in Ludhiana. The court also said that the Punjab police failed to investigate the role of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Ahbaab Singh Grewal, who received a huge amount of money from the beneficiaries.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has also questioned the manner in which a woman was granted bail by the police for a non-bailable offence.

The land in question belonged to Lt. Gen. Sant Singh, who died in 1975. While the dispute over ownership was going on in a Ludhiana court, Amarjeet Kaur, the wife of his son Sardool Singh and her two daughters — Sanjeet Kaur and Geetinder Kaur — filed a claim for compensation for the land with three separate declarations that there was no pending litigation over the ownership.

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The statements were filed by Amarjeet, with power of attorney from both daughters. The amount of In 2021, Rs 28 crore was released to all three for the land acquired by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for the construction of the Delhi-Katra Expressway.

When Suneet Kaur, the daughter of Lt. Gen., who was a party to the ongoing property dispute, came to know about it, she complained to the SSP (Rural) Ludhiana, alleging that the trio had obtained compensation through false statements while the civil proceedings were ongoing.

Ludhiana police filed a criminal case against Amarjeet Kaur but her daughters were acquitted. It was against this decision of the police that Suneet approached the high court seeking an independent agency to investigate.

Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi, after perusing the case documents, observed that the daughters had been acquitted on “ridiculous grounds”. “They knew that the civil suit was pending. They received crores of rupees in their bank accounts as compensation for the land acquired. They had purchased stamp papers. Merely because they had given powers of attorney to their mother cannot absolve them of their apparent guilt,” the court recorded, adding that during the investigation, the SP (Headquarters), Ludhiana, had arrived at the correct conclusion about their and their mother’s liability, but this was overlooked.

‘Role of AAP leader’

It further said that the role of the AAP leader was not investigated at all, “despite him repeatedly approaching the authorities in support” of the mother and daughters. “He also received a huge amount of money in his bank account from Amarjeet Kaur. These aspects were deliberately overlooked by the investigating agency,” the court observed and also questioned the role of a lawyer engaged by the family.

“A perusal of the record would also reveal that the SDM, Ludhiana, through whom the money was released in the accounts of the accused, has neither chosen to file a complaint against the accused for filing false affidavits nor has he been made a witness for the prosecution. This apparently shows that the report under Section 173 CrPC (challan) has been framed in a manner to weaken the case of the prosecution,” the court further recorded.

The court also questioned how the police could have granted the mother bail for a crime for which no bail was required.

“The record thus reveals that the investigation was not conducted in a fair and impartial manner. In fact, it was conducted with a view to weakening the case of the applicant/complainant. The active role of respondent no. 5 (AAP leader) and others in perpetrating the fraud and disrupting the investigation cannot be ruled out. Therefore, to ensure a free, fair and impartial investigation, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is directed to conduct the investigation,” the report said, transferring the investigation to the Dakha Police Station FIR dated October 15, 2022, to the CBI and asking for completion of the investigation within six months.