Court stays arrest of ex-minister Arun Shourie in hotel sale case

The Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday stayed the arrest warrant issued against former Union disinvestment minister, Arun Shourie, and another person by a special CBI court in connection with alleged corruption in the 2002 sale of a hotel in Udaipur.

On Tuesday, the court provided relief to three other persons from arrest in the same case.

The court’s decision came on petitions filed by Arun Shourie and Kantilal Vikamsey, then head of valuation firm Kanti Karamsey & Co.

The single bench of Justice Dinesh Mehta noted that Shourie because of his age, his wife’s ailments and a child who requires his care would find it difficult to appear before the Court, particularly in the present scenario.

“Considering the age and family circumstances of the petitioner, a small indulgence of appearing any time by October 15 is granted to him. The petitioner (Shourie) shall not be arrested in pursuance of the arrest warrant issued in relation to the order passed by special judge, CBI cases, Jodhpur. The petitioner may appear before the Court on any date by October 15 and furnish a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and two sureties of Rs 1 lakh each. The petitioner shall be permitted to appear before the court with his counsel,” justice Mehta said.

Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Shourie, said that the trial court has committed an error in holding that the prosecution sanction under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act is not required. He further said the petitioner was not even named in the FIR.

Meanwhile, the CBI clarified its stand on the matter on Wednesday. Addl. Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the CBI, said that the order of the Special Judge, CBI is not in conformity with law. He emphasised that the CBI is reiterating its stand that no irregularity had been committed and the very order of taking cognizance is not proper.

On September 15, along with Shourie and Pradip Baijal, the special CBI court ordered the registration of cases against Ashish Guha, the managing director of Lazard India Ltd who was the financial adviser, valuer Kantilal Karamsey of Kantilal Karamsey & Company and Jyotsana Suri, director of Bharat Hotels Ltd.

The CBI court’s order came despite the agency filing a closure report.

The case centres on the sale of the Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel in Udaipur, earlier run by the Indian Tourism Development Corporation, to Bharat Hotels Limited in 2002. The CBI filed an FIR in 2014, alleging that the government lost Rs 244 crore in sale as the hotel was evaluated at Rs 252 crore and was sold for Rs 7.52 crore.

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