Haryana Governor approves former CM Hooda’s prosecution for illegally re-allotting land to National Herald’s parent company

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi are facing charges for corruption and tax evasion after the firm Young Indian, allegedly controlled by them, took over AJL.

Haryana state Governor, Satyadev Narayan Arya sanctioned a proposal on Thursday to prosecute Congress member and former chief minister of Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda in a case of illegal re-allotment of land.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had submitted an affidavit to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. In it, they alleged that Hooda in 2005, misused his official position to re-allot some land in Panchkula to Associate Journals Limited (AJL), the owner of the National Herald.

The ED’s affidavit came in response to a petition that Congress leader Motilal Vora, filed before the high court. Vora is the chairman of AJL. He had appealed that the agency’s enforcement case investigation report should be quashed.

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In May 2016, the bureau had registered a case against Hooda for cheating and corruption in re-allotment of the land AJL in Panchkula by HUDA. The case was then transferred to CBI in December 2016. At the time of the allotment of the plot, Hooda was the chairman of Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA).

Both Central Bureau of Investigation and ED are investigating the case. The investigators claimed that when in power, Hooda had overlooked the recommendations made by both Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) and the Financial Commissioner of the Town and Country Planning Department “in order to show favour to the petitioner”.

HUDA allotted AJL, the publisher of the National Herald newspaper, 3,360 sq. meters of land on August 24, 1982. The land was, however, taken back by the state government in 1992 for non-completion of construction within the stipulated time.

AJL appealed against this but was turned down. After which it approached the chairman of HUDA where it was pending till Hooda took over in 2005.

HUDA, which was then headed by the Congress member, re-allotted the land, in violation of its own policy and law, to AJL at 1982 price. In May 2016, state’s Vigilance Bureau registered an FIR against Hooda, and the case was transferred to CBI in December that same year.

Earlier this month it was reported how the central government had sent a legal order to AJL, the Congress’ mouthpiece National Herald publishers, to vacate the premises allotted to them at Press Enclave called the ‘Herald House’. AJL had then approached the Delhi High Court against the central government’s orders. The order was to vacate the premises they occupy in Delhi.

It is notable here that Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi are facing charges for corruption and tax evasion after the firm Young Indian, allegedly controlled by them, took over AJL. The Income Tax department had imposed a 250 crore fine on Young Indian in 2017. BJP leader and legal activist Subramanian Swamy is the petitioner in the case.

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