CBI books Hooda in land allocation case, raids 20 places in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab (Intro Roundup)

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New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) More than a year after registering a preliminary inquiry, the CBI on Friday booked former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and several others in the alleged irregularities in allotting over 1,417 acres of land during 2009-12 in Gurugram and carried out raids at over 20 places in Haryana, Delhi and Punjab, including his residence and several companies.

Apart from Hooda, the agency booked Trilok Chand Gupta, the then Chief Administrator, HUDA and Director of the Urban Estate Town and Country Planning, and others, including 15 private builders, on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, pecuniary advantage and criminal misconduct, on January 23.

While Congress attacked the CBI action as a result of “political vendetta” citing its timing when Hooda was to address an election meeting in the Jind bypoll in the state. Other opposition leaders including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Delhi counterpart and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using CBI and other agencies against political rivals.

This is the fifth case against Hooda in the last few years. Of the four earlier FIRs, three were filed by the CBI and one by the Haryana Police.

The probe agency named in its FIR 15 realty firms — DLF New Gurgaon Homes Developers Pvt Ltd, HS Realty Pvt Ltd, DSS Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, Sana Realtors Pvt Ltd, Gupta Promoters Pvt Ltd, Ansal Properties Pvt Ltd, JMD Ltd, Emaar MGF Land Ltd, Krish Buildtech Pvt Ltd (now Brahma City Pvt Ltd), Buzz Hotels Pvt Ltd, SU Estates Pvt Ltd, Commander Realtors Pvt Ltd, Marconi Infratech Pvt Ltd, Martial Buildcon Pvt Ltd and RS Infrastructure Pvt Ltd — through their managing directors.

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A CBI official said the agency registered the case based on November 1, 2017 orders of the Supreme Court to investigate the acquisition process of over 1,417.07 acres of land between 2009 and 2012 in Gurugram’s Sector 58 to 63 and Sector 65 to 67.

The FIR was a follow-up to the PE instituted on January 1, 2018, against Hooda, Gupta, and several other unnamned persons and to determine whether any wrongdoing was involved in the allocating the lands, a senior CBI official said.

Raids were carried out since Friday morning at over 20 locations, including the DLF office in Gurugram and offices of other builders in Delhi, and in Chandigarh, Rohtak, New Delhi and Mohali, besides Hooda’s residence in Rohtak.

In Delhi and Gurugram, the CBI raided the office premises of Ansal Properties Pvt Ltd in central Delhi’s Kasturba Gandhi Marg, DDS infrastructure’s office in Barakambha road area, DLF new Gurgaon Developers office in Jhandewalan extension area of the central Delhi and DLF Phase 2 in Gurugram, while the office of the Gupta Promoters was searched in the Unitech Business Zone in Gurugram.

The official also said that it carried out searches at the offices of Emmar MGF in Gurugram’s Sector 28, while the office of the JMD Ltd located in Gurugram’s MG road was also searched.

Hooda was expected to address a rally in Haryana’s Jind city later Friday in support of Congress candidate Randeep Singh Surjewala.

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According to the CBI FIR, the Haryana government had issued the notification for land acquisition of 1,417 acres of land located in Sector 58 to 63 and 65 to 67 on June 2, 2009. Subsequently another notification was issued for acquisition of 850.1 acres of land on May 31, 2010.

“During investigation it was established that a proposal for acquisition of land for development of Sector 58 to 63 and 65 to 67, Gurugram was mooted by Gupta, who issued directions for monitoring land acquisition cases by the Town Planning Wing of HUDA,” it said.

Gupta also directed to collect certain information by mentioning that land bank of HUDA was shrinking. Not only for the survival of HUDA but also for ensuring availability of developed land at affordable prices to the public and to the economically weaker sections, it was essential that a healthy land bank was created by HUDA, said CBI.

The probe alleged that builders and others dishonestly and fraudulently entered into a criminal conspiracy with Hooda and Gupta and other unnamed private persons and unknown public servants with intent to cheat landowners, public and the state.

In pursuance of it, a notification under Section 4 and subsequently under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 were issued for acquiring lands. Respective landowners were compelled to sell their land to mentioned colonizers at lower prices than the price relevant before notification. Letters of intent/licences of the notified land were fraudulently issued which caused loss to respective landowners, public at large and corresponding wrongful gains to themselves, it said.

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It also alleged that with a view to compelling the land owners, who did not want to sell their land to the colonizer companies, the companies managed to get issued a notification of Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for the total areas 1,417.07 acres located at village Nangli, Umarpur, Ghata, Tigra, Ulahwas, Kadarpur, Maidawas, Badshahpur and Bahrampur (Sector 58 to 63 and 65 to 67).

“These lands were scattered over many of the pockets sandwiched between licensed land/land on which licences were applied, land falling under revenue rasta (passage) and nallah (drain) and thus, not useful for HUDA. Subsequently fraudulently licences were issued and the land was released from acquisition process,” said the FIR.

It also said that Hooda and Gupta while having knowledge that the land notified was not worth developing by HUDA, first got the related land notified and simultaneously recommended and approved release of land and approved grant of licence to colonizers in order to give them undue benefit.

The Hooda government in Haryana in 2009 had initiated the process of acquiring 1,417 acres of land in eight villages around Gurgaon. But some villagers had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the acquisition process alleging that the government which acquired the land for the public purpose from the poor and released about 95 per cent of it to private builders. Hearing the farmers’ plea, the High Court had quashed the notification under which the land was acquired.

The HC order was challenged by Hooda government in the Supreme Court.

–IANS

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