22 July, New Delhi
The Enforcement Directorate has booked former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and others in a money laundering case related to an alleged case of wrongful re-allotment of land to Associated Journals Limited (AJL) in Panchkula in 2005, an official said.
The agency also booked some officials of AJL and the publisher of the National Herald newspaper in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after taking cognizance of a Haryana state vigilance bureau FIR registered on May 5 this year.
The vigilance bureau had registered a case of cheating and corruption against Hooda and four officials who were in the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA).
Investigators said that AJL had been allotted the plot in 1982 for running its Hindi newspaper Navjeevan. However, the construction work was not completed, due to which the allotment was cancelled in 1992. AJL appealed against the cancellation, which was rejected.
In 1998, AJL again petitioned the then Chief Minister of Haryana, who turned it down.
However, it is alleged that, Hooda, who came to power in 2004, decided to re-allot the same piece of land to AJL in 2005 at the 1982 rate despite reservations from the departments concerned.
Hooda termed the action as “political vendetta” and said there was no wrongdoing.
The vigilance bureau had alleged that the act by the then HUDA chairman and the officials had caused a huge financial loss to HUDA as the plot should have been sold through open auction instead of being allotted again to AJL.
It is alleged that a plot measuring 3,360 square metres in the prime location of Sector 6 in Panchkula was re-allotted to AJL on June 29, 2005.