Special CBI court accuses Hooda of ‘dishonest intentions’ in AJL land allotment case
The Special Court of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Haryana accused former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of ‘dishonest intentions’ with regard to illegal allotment to land to the Associated Journal Limited (AJL), National Herald newspaper’s publisher. Dismissing Hooda’s plea seeking for discharge, the court said that it had sufficient grounds to frame criminal charges against him.
The court framed charges against him under sections 420 (cheating) and 120-B (party to criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and under Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. While the order was given last week, on April 16, a detailed copy of the matter was made public on Monday.
The order read, “The allegations made against the accused are specific not only against him but also against accused AJL… If I discuss the statements of prosecution witnesses coupled with the documents relied upon by the CBI, it cannot be presumed that there is no case at all to proceed. Further, the positive and negative facts, in conjunction with other subsidiary facts, appearing expressly or by implication, from the materials which were before this court at this stage are, at least, sufficient to show that there are grounds for presuming that the accused has committed offences under Sections 120B, 420 IPC and Sections 13(1)(d) r/w 13(2)of the PC Act.”
The FIR was registered against the Congress leader in 2016, when BJP government came to power in Haryana. The complaint stated that alleged offence occurred in 2005 when Hooda approved the allotment of a 3,360 square metres institutional plot (C-17) in Sector 6, Panchkula. The said plot was already allotted to AJL back in 1982, but since no construction was carried out in 10 years, the land taken back in 1992.
In 1995 and 1996, AJL again filed appeals in attempt to regain the plot, but these were dismissed by the HUDA administrator and Haryana’s financial commissioner, citing non-construction in the plot within the stipulated period as the reason. However, when Hooda became the CM of the state in 2005, he re-allotted the plot to AJL on old rates, which allegedly caused the government loss of ₹62 lakh.
In his defence, Hooda stated that there was “no conflict of interest” and “no personal or institutional bias” in favour of AJL. The court replied to his defence statement, saying, “It is crystal clear that both accused belonged to the same party and M/s AJL is also associated with the Congress, one of whose objectives is to promote the party’s ideology… Prima facie sufficient grounds are made out to proceed with the trial against the accused and no ground for discharge is made out.”
“Hooda, the then CM, Haryana/chairman, HUDA by misusing his official position as CM in conspiracy with accused Motilal Vora (now deceased), chairman, AJL and accused AJL, appears to have committed criminal misconduct and dishonestly cheated Government of Haryana by re-allotting the institutional plot at old rates as applicable in 1982 by flouting the laid down policies of HUDA and caused wrongful gain of Rs 67,65,002/- to accused AJL and corresponding wrongful loss to the Government exchequer,” the single bench observed.