Supreme Court indicts Hooda, terms the land acquisition ‘nothing but fraud on power’

The Supreme Court on Monday set aside the 2007 order of Congress’ Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s Haryana Government and has taken away land from builders. The court has asked the CBI to get to the bottom of the alleged fraud.

Terming the decisions ‘nothing but fraud on power’, the Court came down heavily on the former government. The Supreme Court ruling came on a plea that had challenged the Haryana government’s decision to acquire land, by way of an August 27, 2004, notification, measuring around 912 acres in three villages, namely Manesar, Lakhnoula and Naurangpur of Gurgaon district for the purpose of setting up the Chaudhari Devi Lal Industrial Township.

As per reports, on February 26, 2005, 224 acres of land was released from acquisition by the government but builders approached the farmers for purchase of their land at throwaway prices. Using this ‘smoke screen’, builders coerced landowners to sell 400 acres at a throwaway price of Rs 100 crore against a market price of Rs 1,600 crore. Just two days before the pronouncement of award for the land acquired by the government on August 26, 2007, an order was passed on August 24, 2007, dropping the acquisition.

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As reported in Times of India,

Finding ‘middlemen’ getting a windfall from the fraud, a bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit said, “The CBI may do well to unravel the truth. In any case, such hefty sums which were made over to ‘middlemen’ cannot be said to be rightfully earned by and belonging to them… In our view, this money rightfully belongs to the state and none other. We direct the authorities of the state as well as the central government to reach the depths of such transactions and recover every single pie and make it over to the state government. A complete investigation in the transactions, including unearthing unnatural gains received by ‘middlemen’, shall be undertaken by the CBI.”

The bench came down heavily on the builder-Hooda government nexus and ordered that the 688 acres of land, which was notified to be acquired but was not, is now deemed to have been acquired by the Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation (HSIDC) and Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) and the land would now vest in them instead of the builders.

Writing the 97-page judgment for the bench throwing light on every aspect of the massive fraud and saying that ‘public interest’ was murdered, Justice Lalit said the land transferred to builders between August 27, 2004 and January 29, 2010, along with the licences granted to builders, would now vest with HSIDC and HUDA. The builders will get interest-free refund from the government at the rate at which they had purchased the land from the farmers, and the amount they had invested to develop the land, the bench said.

The report further said the landowners who lost land would be entitled to initiate proceedings for enhanced compensation that is over and above the price for which they had sold their land to the builders. The report provides that in case the builder has completed construction on the land, the claimants, after verification, shall be eligible for plots or apartments.

The Supreme Court quoted the CBI report which said, “Some politicians who were also important functionaries of state government, government officers and their agents caused a wrongful loss of Rs 1,500 crore to landowners of Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhounla and corresponding gains to themselves.” The Court observed that the money rightfully belongs to the state and none other and directed the state as well as central government to reach the bottom of this.

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