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Supreme Court notices to Centre, Anant Kumar on `housing scam'

By Our Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JAN. 23. The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre, the former Union Urban Development Minister and BJP leader, Anant Kumar, the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) and the National Housing Bank on a public interest petition to order a probe into the `Rs. 10,000 crore housing scam' involving the HUDCO.

The notice was issued by a Bench comprising Justice S.N. Variava and Justice H.K. Sema on a petition from the Centre for Public Interest Litigation which wanted the court to investigate the actions of Mr. Anant Kumar and Biswas, former chairman and managing director of the HUDCO, causing a huge loss to the public exchequer.

The petitioner submitted that it wanted to bring to the notice of the court the mala fide and arbitrary use of power and sanctioning of loans by the HUDCO to the tune of Rs. 14,500 crores and release of Rs. 8,500 crore subscription in privately-placed debentures of Rs. 1,250 crores and writing off of Rs. 550 crores in 2002-2003 resulting in grave loss to the exchequer and further accumulation of non-performing assets in the country which had already crossed Rs. one lakh crores.

It said Mr. Anant Kumar and Mr. Biswas, who were in office at that time, were responsible for sanctioning of loans to various public and private agencies and on a single day over 50 corporate houses were sanctioned loans to the tune of crores of rupees. The petitioner said that since there was lending without following appraisal norms, the National Housing Board and various other high-level officers of the Centre had issued a warning to the HUDCO from time to time.

Despite these warnings, the HUDCO continued to sanction loans. The petitioner said that Mr. Anant Kumar and others had violated the code of ethics for public sector undertakings and entered into a conspiracy to divert public funds for extraneous considerations.

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