Suresh Kalmadi and nine others were today put on trial in a Commonwealth Games-related corruption case by a Delhi court which invoked charges of criminal conspiracy, forgery, cheating and other offences against them entailing life imprisonment as maximum punishment.
The court framed charges against Kalmadi, who was sacked as CWG Organising Committee(OC) chairman, and the other accused, also including OC Secretary General Lalit Bhanot, for the offences punishable under the IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly causing a loss of over Rs 90 crore to the exchequer.
Special CBI Judge Ravinder Kaur fixed February 20 for commencement of recording of evidence in the case and asked CBI to submit on February 7 the list of prosecution witnesses who are to be called for recording of their statements. All the accused have been charged under various sections of the IPC, including section 467 (forgery of a valuable security), which entails life term as maximum punishment.
"The charges have been framed. Trial to commence on a day-to-day basis barring Monday and Friday from February 20," the court said.
The court framed substantive charge under section 13 (2) read with section 13 (1) (d) (criminal misconduct by public servants) of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Kalmadi. Kalmadi will also face trial for offences under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with sections 420 (cheating), 467, 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating),471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
Besides these, Kalmadi and other accused have also been charged for offences under sections 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and 511 (attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life) of the IPC. After framing of charges, all the accused pleaded not guilty and claimed trial in the case.
The accused were chargesheeted by the CBI for "illegally" awarding a contract to install Timing, Scoring and Results (TSR) system for the 2010 CWG to Swiss Timing at inflated rates causing a loss of over Rs 90 crore to the exchequer.
Besides Kalmadi and Bhanot, among the other accused in the case are OC's former Director General V K Verma, former Director General (Procurement) Surjit Lal, former Joint Director General (Sports) A S V Prasad and former Treasurer M Jayachandran. They are no more associated with the sporting body.
Apart from the six, promoters of two construction firms - P D Arya and A K Madan of Faridabad-based Gem International and A K Reddy of Hyderabad-based AKR Constructions are also accused in the case. AKR Constructions is also an accused in the case.
The court framed substantial charges of misusing official position against the six former OC officials, who were public servants.
Apart from the charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act, it framed substantive charges under sections 468 and 471 of the IPC against Bhanot and Prasad. Verma will face trial for substantive charges under sections 201, 511, 468, 471 and 506 of the IPC and under the PC Act while Arya, Madan and AKR Constructions will face substantive charge of cheating.
The court, in its order, observed that Swiss Timing was selected on a "nomination basis" and false expression of interest was published to keep others away and the request for proposal was made restrictive. It also said that MSL Spain, whose much lower bid of Rs 62 crore for TSR system was rejected by OC, was "fraudulently disqualified" at the pre-qualification stage resulting in a "single tender situation".
According to the court sources, the order also noted that Arya and Madan, who were representing Swiss Timing in India, had paid over Rs 71.73 lakh to M/s Whiz Craft International Entertainment Pvt Ltd for a performance by Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty in the closing ceremony of CWG Youth Games 2008 held in Pune at the instance of Kalmadi.
The court had on December 21, 2012 passed the order on framing of charges under various provisions of the IPC and the PC Act against Kalmadi and the other accused in the case. Regarding Swiss Timing Omega, which was also an accused in the case, the court had said that as the firm, which was allegedly awarded the contract at exorbitant rates, is not appearing in the court despite proper service of summons, its "trial is separated."
The CBI had alleged that Kalmadi and others had rejected Spanish firm MSL's much lower bid of Rs 62 crore and awarded the contract to Swiss Timing Omega, causing a loss of over Rs 90 crore to the exchequer. CBI counsel V K Sharma had argued that Kalmadi and others had decided to award the contract for installing the TSR system for the CWG to Swiss Timing even before the firm had bid for it.
Kalmadi's counsel, however, had argued that the facts given in the CBI's charge sheet were contrary to the documents which the agency had filed in the court. Kalmadi had told the court that he was only doing the work assigned to him as the OC chairman and nothing wrong was done by him in the entire process.