Lalu seeks two weeks to appear before CBI

The CBI rejected the politicians' plea seeking 15 days' time for appearing before the investigation team in the case which relates to alleged graft in awarding a contract to a private firm for the maintenance of two railway hotels when Lalu Yadav was the Union railway minister in 2006.

Former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav's lawyer on Tuesday reached CBI office and sought two weeks time in Railway hotel tender case. It was now clear that both Mr Prasad and Mr Yadav were trying to mislead the people and also the premier investigating agency one pretext or the other, he alleged.

This was the second time Tejashwi did not appear before the CBI.

Lalu Prasad's advocate, through a letter, informed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday afternoon that his client would not be able to join the investigation in response to the summons issued on September 22 seeking his presence at the CBI headquarters here. Thereafter, the agency asked Lalu to appear on September 25 and Tejashwi on September 26.

CBI has alleged that Lalu Yadav, as railway minister, handed over the maintenance of two hotels run by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation- a subsidiary of the Indian Railways-in Ranchi and Puri to Sujata Hotels, a company owned by Vinay and Vijay Kochhar, in return for a prime plot of three acres in Patna procured through a benami company.

Rabri, wife of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, has been summoned to be present before the investigating officer of the case on October 11, and Tejaswi Yadav on October 10.

In July, the CBI had registered a criminal FIR and conducted multiple searches against former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad and others.

During the CBI's preliminary inquiry, the agency purportedly found that the said land was sold by the Kochhars to Delight Marketing, and payment was arranged through Ahluwalia Contractors and its promoter Bikramjeet Singh Ahluwalia.

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