In an embarrassment to the then Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government in Haryana, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday quashed the allotment of 222 industrial plots in Rohtak, the home turf of former chief minister. The plots were allotted in 2009, two days before the notification for the assembly elections in the state.
The high court bench of justice Hemant Gupta and justice Hari Pal Verma directed the Haryana State Infrastructure and Industrial Development Corporation (HSIDC) to take possession of the plots within six months in case of running units and three months where the operation was yet to start.
The HSIIDC has also been directed to assess the value of allottees’ assets and pay them accordingly with an interest of 10% along with the allotment amount received, petitioners’ counsel Sushil Jain said. The detailed order is awaited.
The allotment was challenged in 2010 following allegations of favouritism and lack of transparency against Hooda, his MP son Deepender Hooda and others as the allotment was done just three days before the notification for the 2009 assembly polls.
The high court bench also trashed the report submitted by three IAS officers — additional chief secretary, higher education, Vijai Vardhan, principal secretary, animal husbandry and dairying, Mahavir Singh and additional director (technical), directorate of industries and commerce, Ashwani Kumar. They were entrusted to judge the allottees’ eligibility in March this year.
The report submitted to the court by IAS officers concluded that no criterion was evolved by the allotment committee to allot marks on various indices to the applicants.
During the course of interviews, no marks were assigned to any of the applicant. “Therefore, the committee is of the opinion that an objective criterion ought to have been in existence before the plots were allotted,” the report states.
However, what irked the high court was that the committee was asked to judge if the allotment was fair. The committee was also asked to evolve a criterion and recommend the allotments to the high court. But it carried out inspection of the units and after eight months of the high court order, it sought “guidance” of the court whether it would be desirable to re-evaluate the allottees’ eligibility at this stage.
As per the report, production has started on 122 plots with an investment of `142 crore and construction has been completed in another 75 plots, with a projected investment of `109. Construction activity has begun on 15 plots and only 10 plots are lying vacant. The committee recommended that the allottees be allowed to complete the construction and start production. To make a case for the allottees, the committee said they had engaged professionals to prepare project reports.
An advertisement for the allotment of 222 plots at Kutana village in Rohtak was issued in 2008. Of the 1,001 applicants, 977 were called for interviews. The interviews were conducted between March and July 2009 by a committee of three IAS officers which declared 222 applicants successful in August 2009, two days before the notification for the assembly polls. The members of the 2009 allotment committee were IAS officers Dheera Khandelwal, Rajeev Arora and Arun Kumar.