National Herald case: HC defers hearing to July 19 | india-news | Hindustan Times
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National Herald case: HC defers hearing to July 19

AJL is the publisher of the National Herald newspaper and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son owns shares in it. The probe was initiated by the agency on July 15, 2016 based on May 5, 2016, FIR of the Haryana vigilance bureau regarding allegations of cheating and corruption against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and others for allegedly re-allotting the plot to AJL.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2017 10:23 IST
HT Correspondent
(HT Representative Image )

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday deferred hearing on the petition of Associated Journals Limited (AJL), seeking a copy of the enforcement case investigation report (ECIR) registered by ED.

The probe was initiated by the agency on July 15, 2016 based on May 5, 2016, FIR of the Haryana vigilance bureau regarding allegations of cheating and corruption against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and others for allegedly re-allotting the plot to AJL.

Later in December, the Haryana government had recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe.

The hearing was deferred on Thursday after high court was told that a related matter was pending before Supreme Court as well. The matter will now be taken up on July 19.

The plot had been initially allotted to AJL in 1982. After the expiry of the lease period in 1996, Haryana Vikas Party government, led by Bansi Lal, took back its possession. It was re-allotted to AJL after the Bhupinder Singh Hooda led Congress came to power in 2005. AJL is the publisher of the National Herald newspaper and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son owns shares in it.

AJL, in its November 2016 petition had argued that ECIR is a “public document” and not a “privileged document” within the meaning of Section 74 of Indian Evidence Act. Furthermore, an “accused” is entitled to a copy of the document in which allegations are made against him by the prosecuting agency. The company had also accused the ED of “witch hunt”.

In response to AJL’s petition ED has denied allegations of “witch hunt” and further claimed that ECIR cannot be provided since it was not a “public document”. It has alleged that chairman, AJL, Moti Lal Vora was not “cooperating” in the probe. The ED also claimed that upon notices to Vora, no document was supplied by him, which was hampering the investigation.

Counsel of AJL chairman is regularly seeking time from investigation officer (IO) to furnish documents but no document has been supplied so far. AJL chairman was summoned on November 7, 22 and 29 in 2016 and then on December 8 and 19, but he did not appear, ED had claimed.