A local court on Thursday acquitted senior Akali leader and former rural development and panchayat minister Nirmal Singh Kahlon in an 11-year-old case pertaining to the purchase of 103 JCB machines.
This is the second case in which Kahlon
has been acquitted as the Punjab vigilance bureau (VB) failed to prove the allegations.
The JCB machines were purchased as per rules and regulations, but a false case was slapped against me owing to political vendetta," Kahlon
after the acquittal.
added, "The court's verdict has reiterated what I had been maintaining for the past 11 years.
I had all these years believed in the judiciary and that truth shall prevail."
In 2011, Kahlon
was acquitted in the recruitment scam for lack of evidence.
Both cases (JCB and recruitment) were registered by the VB after unearthing a 'scam' in the department of rural development and panchayats during the SAD-BJP regime (1997-2002) when Kahlon was the minister concerned.
had on May 16, 2002, registered a case under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Prevention of Corruption Act against Kahlon
and four others in connection with the JCB machine purchase in the department.
As per the allegations, the department had purchased 103 JCB machines at a cost of about Rs.
14 crore, but these were not used.
Also, the machines were allegedly purchased at an exorbitant price (Rs 3-4 lakh each).
Speaking after the acquittal, Kahlon's counsel Satnam Singh Kler said, "Kahlon and the others were booked in a false case on fabricated grounds by then Congress government.
In December 2008, the Punjab vigilance bureau had moved an application seeking the closure of the case against Kahlon
In the application, the VB
had said that the investigations into the JCB scam revealed that Kahlon
, who was then the assembly speaker (2007-12), had no role in the case.
May 16, 2002:Vigilance bureau registers case against Kahlon
and four others.
December 11, 2008:VB
moves application seeking closure of the case
March 3, 2009:Court frames charges in the case, examines about 60 witnesses in trial spread over 4 years
December 19, 2013: Kahlon
, four other accused acquitted
Nirmal Singh Kahlon