Why did Narendra Modi allow CBI to register a case against Arun Shourie for the hotel disinvestment approved by ABV’s cabinet?

Is there more going on than meets the eye in the order of a jugde to re-open a disinvestment decision of the ABV govt.?

Is there more going on than meets the eye in the order of a jugde to re-open a disinvestment decision of the ABV govt.?
Is there more going on than meets the eye in the order of a jugde to re-open a disinvestment decision of the ABV govt.?

Two days ago, surprisingly a trial court in Jodhpur ordered a probe on the former Minister Arun Shourie in an 18-year-old (2002) Cabinet-approved disinvestment of Laxmi Vilas Hotel in Udaipur. The Judge on September 17, 2020, passed orders against the closure of the case by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). When was the First Information Report (FIR) registered? August 13, 2014. Yes, I repeat August 13, 2014, when the CBI was under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is a million-rupee question as to why the CBI under Modi Government registered a case against the hotel sales approved by Vajpayee’s Cabinet… Amar Prem’s Rajesh Khanna would have sung… Yeh kya hua, kaise hua… The FIR, which did not mention any names, said that the case was registered based on the information given by the Department of Disinvestment. At that time, this Department of Disinvestment was under the Finance Ministry headed by Arun Jaitley. By then Shourie had started criticizing Modi. Was it done by the CBI to put pressure on Arun Shourie?

Who played the mischief?

Is it pettiness on part of the Modi Government, who played along with the mischief, or the crookedness of Jaitley? Now the situation has gone out of control with the Judge surprisingly rejecting the CBI’s second closure report. The Judge has even ordered the takeover of the hotel by the State Government! It is a question in law as to how a trial court Judge handling the Prevention of Corruption of Act decide in such a way. Arun Shourie on September 17 told media that he will file a revision petition in Rajasthan High Court[1].

Why did the CBI decide to register a case after 18 years of a Cabinet approved the decision, which was ratified in so many courts? More importantly, why the CBI under Narendra Modi registered a case against the decision approved by Vajpayee’s Cabinet?

Shourie had rebutted in 2014 itself

Six years ago – weeks after the CBI case registration – in September 2014 – Arun Shourie wrote a detailed article on the disinvestment of this Hotel in Udaipur. In a lengthy article, in a point-by-point rebuttal, Shourie wondered how CBI came to a conclusion that the Hotel was valued at Rs.151 crores when it was actually sold for Rs.7.5 crores. The detailed article said that the hotel’s annual revenue was only Rs. Two crores and expenses crossed more than Rs. Three crores, incurring a loss of more than One Crore per year for a long time. The hotel has only 55 rooms (and at that time the room rent was Rs.1900 per day) and the occupancy rate was only 41% and in total, the 29 acre land including the lake – a major portion was barred from further construction by state laws on environment and coastal regulation zone rules. The Hotel was acquired by Bharat Hotels Group through a bid with the approval of the Cabinet. Shourie reminds in the article that at that time the Law Minister was Arun Jaitley whose department approved the files thrice. Bharat Hotel promoter, the late Lalit Suri was that time a BJP MP and a close friend of Jaitley. His wife Jyotsna Suri, who is now running the affairs of the Hotel was also a close friend of Jaitley. Here is the link to the detailed article of Arun Shourie published in Indian Express on the surprising move of CBI during the Modi regime against the decision approved by the Vajpayee Government[2].

Why question an ABV cabinet decision?

This case registration by CBI was the last straw in the friendship between Narendra Modi and his decades-long friend and senior colleague Arun Shourie. Though the case was engineered by the late Arun Jaitley, Modi could have reprimanded the CBI and prevented it from registering the FIR, which has now led to this ugly situation.  Though Shourie’s name did not figure in the FIR, he was provoked by CBI questioning many of the officers who worked under him for 18-year-old Hotel disinvestment approved by the Cabinet. Many cases against the Vajpayee Government’s Disinvestment of several Public Sector Undertakings including this Hotel sale were ratified in many High Courts and the Supreme Court. Even the UPA Government that followed, under the leadership of Congress, did not find any faults in the disinvestment decisions. Then why rake this over the coals again?

Who is calling the shots?

Why did the CBI decide to register a case after 18 years of a Cabinet approved the decision, which was ratified in so many courts? More importantly, why the CBI under Narendra Modi registered a case against the decision approved by Vajpayee’s Cabinet? Is it to just to arm-twist or frighten Arun Shourie? Mr. Modi, you can’t take some heat? Arun Shourie is not the kind of person to fall for such tactics.

CBI must act

The matter has now spiralled out of control after the surprising judicial order. Now it is for the CBI to question the Judge’s surprising order in higher legal forums, although Shourie has declared that he will file a revision petition in the High Court. This reeks of vendetta/pettiness and is a gross abuse of power by the Narendra Modi government.

References:

[1] CBI court orders FIR against Arun Shourie for sale of Laxmi Vilas Palace in 2002, tells authorities to seize hotelSep 17, 2020, India Today

[2] Is this the way to energise civil servants? Sep 5, 2014, The Indian Express

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25 COMMENTS

  1. Mr.Ashok Bhagat – When there is a cabinet decicion, it is collective and binding on all ministers. This is as per INDIAN constitution. So, starting from Vajpayee ji, Advani Ji, and also Arun Jaitley are also responsible. This government cannot just frame Arun Shourie and it is a self goal.

  2. It is strange that Modi gets hauled up for corruption in Rafael deal by none other than Shouri with Sinha, Buhshan and Ram gang. If he can be corrupt why not Shouri what is wrong in demand for investigation.
    The Delhi based politicians from across the party lines and their cross connections in the media, bollywood, industry and even cricket, basically where there is big money is a big Mistry. It is like the Syrian war, everyone shoots everyone when convenient.
    May be before a big strike Modi wants to put on record that he will not spare his own. Who better that Shouri, a known clean man..

  3. As a matter of thought, why the property not given on a 99 year (or shorter term) lease to a Hotel operator.
    This would have ensured that the property stayed with the Government and also earned money for many years.
    Giving away a prime property at pittance, even though same was making loss, is a bad business decision.

  4. Shri Arun Shourie, the then Union Disinvestment Cabinet Minister, is a man of manifest competence and unimpeachable integrity. No one could buy Shri Arun Shourie and get favourable decisions through deceit, inducement, coercion and / or threat. He is a veritable fire towards official corruption. No one would believe this frivolous charge. I hope Rajasthan High Court will over turn this judgement in the Revision application filed by Shri Arun Shourie.

  5. Here is what S. Gurmurthy tweeted:
    “UPA filed FIR in the case. CBI filed closure report filed on 13.8.2019. Magistrate asked CBI to investigate for another month, CBI investigated for a year & filed 2nd closure on on 15.9.2020. Now Magiatrate overrules CBI, goes ahead & makes Shourie not in FIR accused & issues NBW”

    It is the bane of this country that judge/investigating agencies become target at every instance that one disagrees with their action that an average Indian’s trust in them is clouded by such obfuscations. It is in the best interest of the country that the ruling and opposing parties as well as media restrain themselves OR provide proof with their allegations.

    • I for one would never trust what Gurumurthy says. As per one of Swamy’s tweets , he is the man / brain behind Demo
      The man is there for himself and uses Mahaperivar’s name to fool people.
      Time and truth will reveal the man behind the facade.

  6. Why did Narendra Modi allow CBI to register a case against Arun Shourie for the hotel disinvestment approved by ABV’s cabinet?

    Let Narendra Modi allow CBI to register a case against Rahul Gandhi for illegally roaming in USA with US$ 250,000 during ABV’s Govt.

    Shourie is not a thumb sucker and in fact he introduced investigative journalism with perfection much before ABV govt and Modi was not even a CM of Gujarat then!! These are the days of reverse and counter intelligence investigation Shourie should investigate late Arun Jaitley’s grown up children taking big fee from crooks who ran away from our country under PM Modi’s nose and also investigate subject to correction late Sushma Swaraj progeny were about to take up a case of those who ran away from our country! Shourie and Prashant Bhushnan (I dislike Prashant)are the best opposition parties in the absence of or inactive opposition parties!!

    it is probable that PM Modi ji considers massive NPAs and scams of UPAs ten years as just “peanuts”. Hence no initiative is taken by his majboot sarkar while Dr.S.Swamy is chasing crooks without his own party’s help! Entire BJP and RSS made corruption/black money/ P-Notes/ Hawala a non-issue now and seems to have compromised with scores of corrupt crooks and some are in BJP!

    GDP growth of India is negative 23.9% without MSME data and if we add it would be negative 32%. Since Jan 2020 World economy and Indian after covid gone down while Ambani and Adanis GDP is going up!! It’s not a Chinese puzzle but a Gujarati puzzle!

    Why PM Modi is not interested in doing good to our Economy even after 6plus years? Let him chase his soot boot Niti Ayog PPT babus and Chief Economic Advisor for showing him “few green shoots and V shape growth recovery” instead of chasing Shourie !

  7. The last thing that anyone could find fault with Mr. Shourie is his integrity. He is on the same page with Modi on the issues of corruption. Hope better senses prevails and the CBI would do well to clear Mr. Shourie’s name in an imaginary scam.

    • Perhaps Mr. Shourie was ill advised. But the fact remains that the property was seriously undervalued and that decision has rightly been reversed. I do not know whether the decision is criminal. However, I am convinced that Mr. Shourie should have known better.

    • if I am not mistaken it was the UPA that originally filed FIR against Sri Shouri. The CBI had cleared Sri Shouri’s name not once but twice, after a further investigation was ordered after the first clearance. It is the magistrate who has overruled CBI report, and that too issues a NBW. (an NBW when terrorists are exempted?)This is Rajasthan, where the Congress is in power. Where Vadra still has vast swathes of unquestioned land grabs. Unfortunately or fortunately, the powers of either the Centre or the States can curb the powers of the other in many areas of governance. It would be improper for either to interfere unless and until constitutionally permitted.
      Re. Sri Shourie, like we undoubtingly acknowledge and accept Sri Modi’s patriotism and nationalism, we do so to Sri Shourie’s integrity.
      Re. the apparently low price at which the hotel was sold, was in 2002. In twenty years time price of real estate has gone stratospheric, engineered by the Congress Chidamabaram engineered money-laundering schemes. Even so this question of undervaluation can be looked into without extreme harassment of an honest helmsman.

      I would request PGurus to abstain in these sensitive and dangerous times, when we are under severe threat of an intensifying pandemic, its economic fall-out, of hating and venomous anti-nationals biding their time and scheming to bring down this government and specially Sri Narendra Modi, and most of all an unavoidable war with a very powerful and insane enemy, from publishing these kind of articles which create doubt and dissension amongst us which will only serve to weaken us and strengthen our enemies.
      ,

  8. Arun Shourie’s argument is false. he is showing the income statement data to arrive at the value of the hotel. Anyone who is in Hotel/Motel business knows that the real value of such properties is not in the revenue stream (though it is important) but in the value, prospects, and location of the Real Estate. I who has been in business, for long, am sure that there is something fishy going on here. I am happy that the decision, a steal by Bharat Hotel Group has been reversed. I cannot comment on guilt or innosense of Arun Shourie. However, Modi did the right thing, it is not vendetta.

    • Nonsense. The deal was vetted by Arun Jaitley then Law Minister and approved by Cabinet. It is nothing but vendetta and pettiness. Why CBI closed the case after 5 years after registering FIR? For five years put Shourie under pressure without naming him but calling his old officers for questioning. How execution of a Cabinet decision become crime. Modi did third rate fraud.

      • Sorry. It is not nonsense. What I said is true. Perhaps you do not know, so your ignorant outburst is excused. Cabinet was guided by learned Mr. Shourie. Other members of cabinet relied upon wrong and tainted judgement of Mr. Shourie. Mr. Jaitley looked only at legal aspects, not the valuation of property. I am not commenting on India’s internal political processes. I am only saying that the valuation of property is completely wrong, even a foolish person will not do that, and main actors should have known better. How Indian law takes its course, I am not commenting on that. As I do not live in India for 40+ years, I do not know much about Indian laws and its operations. However, I think, Mr. Shourie has a lot of explaining to do and the decision must be reversed.

    • Modi is in a hard position. If he takes action he is accused of vendetta, if he does not the opposition claims he is going soft on corruption when it comes to his party. I disagree with your conclusion, completely, and I am not a Gujarati, and do not live in India either.

    • Roosevelt had said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Old Gujarat style……

  9. Distraction is the name of Modi’s game
    Distraction from the entire state of affairs in the country
    Distraction from the economy and lack of revenue
    Distraction from his ineptitude and incompetence
    Distraction from the loss of faith in institutions
    Distraction from the Tughlak team running the PMO and the country into the ground
    And so on.

    • Absolute power, TINA, arrogance and immense egoism if these go out of brain and heart surely we can expect better decision making from the incumbent government.

  10. […] Is it pettiness on part of the Modi Government, who played along with the mischief, or the crookedness of Jaitley? Now the situation has gone out of control with the Judge surprisingly rejecting the CBI’s second closure report. The Judge has even ordered the takeover of the hotel by the State Government! It is a question in law as to how a trial court Judge handling the Prevention of Corruption of Act decide in such a way. Arun Shourie on September 17 told media that he will file a revision petition in Rajasthan High Court[1]. […]

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