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CBI seeks to prosecute Sheila Kaul, Thungon

The Central Bureau of Investigation has sought government sanction for the prosecution of former federal ministers Sheila Kaul and P K Thungon and some of their personal staff on the charge of criminal conspiracy in the sanctioning of 42 shops at various places in New Delhi.

Official sources have identified the accused staff as Sheila Kaul's former additional private secretaries Rajan S Lala and D D Arora and assistant private secretary S L Yadav.

Sheila Kaul, who was urban development minister in the Narasimha Rao Government, and Thungon, who held the rank of minister of state for the same ministry, and the staff are also being charged with criminal misconduct and criminal breach of trust to cause ''a huge pecuniary loss'' to the government by allotting the shops in ''violation of all prescribed norms and approved policies'' according to the sources.

Those who received ''undue advantage'' in the allotment of shops were a servant working at the residence of Sheila Kaul and the mother and son of her secretaries Rajan Lala and Arora respectively.

The sources said the accused persons had entered into a criminal conspiracy and in pursuance Sheila Kaul in her capacity as minister sanctioned 42 shops, including seven in the posh Lodhi Road Complex Market.

Thungon allegedly got allotted two shops in the name of Tsering and Krishna in Pleasure Garden Market concealing the real identities of the allottees.

These applications for allotment were received by both the then ministers directly from the would-be allottees.

''The antecedents of the allottees were not verified and the allotments were made arbitrarily,'' the sources said.

The CBI has already conducted searches at the residences of the two former ministers, besides filing a first information report last year.

Sheila Kaul resigned as Himachal Pradesh governor early last year following her indictment by the Supreme Court in connection with another case in which she had been charged with making thousands of out-of-turn allotment of residential quarters for government staff.

The Supreme Court had held Sheila Kaul prima facie guilty of misuse of her office and nepotism for ''extraneous considerations".

Justice Kuldip Singh and Justice B L Hansaria had observed on November 6 last that Sheila Kaul had been more callous than former Petroleum Minister Satish Sharma, who had been charged with showing official favour in the allotment of petrol pumps, in allotting the shops.

''In Captian Sharma's case there was no pecuniary loss caused to the government but in this case this is very clear. This is our prima facie view,'' the judges have observed.

On Kaul's contention that none of the allottees was known to her, the judges observed that the CBI report had clearly indicated the former minister made the allotments to her close friends and relatives.

''In our view, you squarely come within the ambit of'' imposition of exemplary damages if the charges were proved, the judges had stated.

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