Lal Singh sent to 14-day judicial custody

Jammu, Nov 18: A special court Saturday sent the chairman Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party and former minister Chowdhary Lal Singh to 14-day judicial custody in a money laundering case.

Special Public Prosecutor Ashwani Khajuria, while speaking to Greater Kashmir, said, “After the completion of his custodial (Enforcement Directorate) remand today, the court sent him (Singh), who was produced (before the court) through virtual mode, to 14-day judicial custody in District Jail, Ambphalla.”

“In second development of the day related to this case, with regard to his main bail application, the Principal Sessions Judge partly heard the arguments. As the proceedings remained inconclusive, the court fixed the next date of hearing on Monday i.e., November 20,” he said. The court granted the prayer of the Investigation Officer, taking note of his submission that the “accused, involved in a serious and non-bailable offence, tried to derail the investigation by not cooperating.”

The court, however, also directed that he (Singh) would be “subjected to regular medical check-up under rules.”

On November 8, a day after his arrest, Singh was sent to seven-day custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) by the court. On November 14, the special court extended the ED custody of Singh by five days. The former minister was arrested by ED sleuths from a house in Chowadi in Sainik Colony in Jammu outskirts after his anticipatory bail application was rejected by the Special Judge CBI Jammu Bala Jyoti on November 7. However, the court had extended the bail application of his wife Kanta Andotra and their daughter Dr Kranti Singh up to November 30.

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Prior to his arrest the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had questioned him for two days on November 4 and 6, in connection with a case of money laundering allegedly by RB Educational Trust, Jammu belonging to his (Singh’s) family.

Singh’s wife and former MLA Kanta Andotra is the chairperson of R B Educational Trust, against which the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had lodged an FIR in 2020 and charge sheet was filed in 2021. She (Andotra) too was questioned by ED on October 18, a day after raids were conducted (by ED) at several locations including their residence.

On October 17, the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) had conducted search operations at eight locations spread over Jammu and Kathua districts in the Union Territory of J&K and Pathankot, Punjab under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 in a case against RB Educational Trust, Jammu, Ajay Singh, former DC Kathua and other Revenue officers/officials. Searches were conducted at multiple locations including the office of the trust situated at the village. Karandi Khurd PO Rajbagh Kathua and residential premises of these persons.

“Residential premises of land donors and other middlemen whose names had surfaced during the course of investigation were also searched. ED initiated investigation on the basis of FIR registered and subsequent chargesheet filed by CBI ACB, Jammu against RB Educational Trust, Jammu, Ajay Singh, the then DC Kathua and other Revenue officers/officials,” ED spokesperson had said, in an official statement.

“ED investigation revealed that RB Educational Trust through its Chairperson Kanta Andotra (ex-MLA), her husband Ch Lal Singh (ex-minister and two times ex-MP) and other trustees in connivance with Ravinder Singh (the then Patwari), Gaurav Sharma (the then Naib Tehsildar) and Subhash Chander (the then Tehsildar) had entered into criminal conspiracy during the period 2011 for wrongful issuance of ‘fards’ so as to retain lands to the extent of more than 328 kanals in favor of her trust beyond the permissible limit of 100 standard kanals,” he had said.

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