Chandigarh, Nov 15 (IANS) Haryana Governor Satyadev Narayan Arya on Thursday approved prosecution of Congress leader and former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in the Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) case on illegal re-allotment of land to the promoters of The National Herald newspaper.
The state vigilance bureau in May 2016 had registered the case against Hooda for cheating and corruption in the allotment of land to the AJL in Panchkula city near here.
HUDA officials and office-bearers of AJL were also charged with illegal re-allotment of the plot in 2005.
The two-time Chief Minister described the Governor’s approval as politically motivated.
He said the decision to allot the plot to the AJL was taken by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) and not by a single individual.
As the Chief Minister, Hooda was chairman of the HUDA at the time of the plot allotment.
The AJL is linked to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and President Rahul Gandhi as The National Herald newspaper is the legacy of the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Leader of Opposition in the Haryana Assembly Abhay Singh Chautala had, in a letter to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, demanded registration of a criminal case against the AJL and Hooda in the case.
Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Chautala, in his letter, had demanded that the trustees and directors of the AJL and Hooda should be booked under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Prevention of Corruption Act.
Referring to media reports regarding plot number C-17 at Sector 6 in Panchkula, the INLD leader said the 3,360 square-metre-land was re-allotted to AJL on June 29, 2005.
The plot was allotted to AJL in 1982 but taken back in 1996 after the company failed to construct a building on it.
“No sooner was the Congress voted to power in 2005, that the then Chief Minister Hooda initiated the process of restoring the plot to AJL on a representation made on the firm’s behalf by one of the trustees,” Chautala said.
Documents revealed that Haryana’s Joint Legal Remembrancer Jagdeep Jain had, on August 17, 2005, strongly opposed the plot’s re-allotment. However, Hooda overruled Jain’s note.
On his part, Hooda defended his action, saying there was “no wrongdoing and that everything was done as per the procedure”.
After the re-allotment, the AJL completed the construction on the plot.