Court acquits Thungon in housing scam case

NEW DELHI, Dec 28: Former union minister PK Thungon, facing trial for 21 years in a corruption case relating to allotment of government quarters, has been acquitted by a special court which said the CBI has failed to prove that he abused his official position.
Besides 71-year-old Thungon, the court also acquitted 14 others, including several government officials, in the case, while three accused died during the trial.
Special CBI Judge Kamini Lau held that the prosecution has not been able to prove that Thungon, the then minister of state (MoS) for urban development, had abused his official position and directly entertained applications for out-of-turn allotment of government accommodation.
The court, in its 440-page judgement, said the CBI has also failed to prove that he had used as genuine forged application forms wherein forgery relating to particulars of quarter, scale of pay and date of priority were made by conspirators.
During the trial, former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Thungon had claimed that he was innocent and had been falsely implicated being a victim of political vendetta and that he had not violated any rules while discharging his duties.
He further said that he was a senior citizen and have been forced to live in Delhi away from his native place Arunachal Pradesh for last over 22 years due to this case.
All other accused had also pleaded innocence in the case.
It said accused Ashok Kumar Gupta, Narender Kumar Sabharwal and Surati Lal Yadav died during the trial and the proceedings against them were abated.
According to records, the case was lodged in 1996, a charge sheet was filed by the CBI in 2003 and charges for the alleged offences of forgery, criminal conspiracy and corruption were framed in 2009.
Thungon along with others was facing trial for alleged irregularities in allotment of government quarters. A graft case was then lodged by the CBI against 18 people.
According to the CBI, during 1993-95, when Thungon was the Minister of State of Urban Development, he along with other accused had allegedly subverted the entire system of allotment of residential houses to government servants.
It was alleged that out-of-turn allotments was being made in such large numbers and for such a long period that this system had virtually replaced the official prescribed norms.
The court said the prosecution has not been able to prove that all the accused had entered into a criminal conspiracy to obtain wrongful gain for themselves out-of-turn allotment of government accommodation by forging the applications.
It said the CBI had failed to prove that ‘any of the accused had exercised their influence over Thungon for getting the out-of-turn allotment of government accommodation sanctioned’ and the public servants had abused their official position or had obtained any illegal gratification.
The court said the documents showed that Thungon had written ‘may be allotted’ which does not mean any direction to the directorate of estates to allot the quarters illegally or in violation of the rules and norms as alleged by the CBI. (DIPRO)