By ordering the registration of a criminal case against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda for alleged irregularities and tweaking of norms in the allotment of Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) industrial plots in Panchkula, the BJP government in the state has stepped up the pressure on two-time Congress chief minister.
The development is certain to send heart beats racing in the Congress camp since Hooda is already at the centre of two CBI inquiries -- de-acquisition of land in Manesar and purchase of Raxil fungicide made during the Congress regime.
The last time a criminal case was registered against a former chief minister was when the CBI booked Om Prakash Chautala in the recruitment of junior basic training (JBT) teachers.
Two days ago,Haryana Lokayukta Pritam Pal too had recommended registration of criminal cases under Prevention of Corruption Act against Rao Narender Singh, a former minister in Hooda government, Vinod Bhyana, a former chief parliamentary secretary, and two Congress MLAs --Naresh Selwal and Jarnail Singh -- for allegedly seeking illegal gratification in lieu of getting change of land use (CLU) permissions.
Prima facie, the case of allotments of Panchkula industrial plots, as per the Vigilance Bureau probe, smacks of nepotism and unfairness.
Additional director general of police (ADGP) BK Sinha had probed the allotments, examined several officials involved in the whole process and also recorded their statements. The ADGP found that 14 persons allotted plots were not even eligible for being interviewed, as per the conditions. Then chief minister Hooda, who was also the chairman of HUDA, however was not questioned by the Vigilance Bureau.
Most of the allottees, the VB probe said, were close relatives -- sons, wives, daughters etc of the state’s who’s who and were connected with the former chief minister, his personal staff, MLAs, high ups in the administration and advocate general’s office, and the Congress workers.
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar who himself ordered registration of a case against his predecessor Hooda; former HUDA chief administrator DPS Nagal and two other HUDA officials also overruled the advice of former director general, Vigilance Bureau, SN Vashisht for conducting a deeper probe and investigation before naming the high ups. Vashisht, who retired on November 30, was appointed as state DGP during the Congress rule and also continued for a few months as DGP when BJP government rode to power. “It is quite clear that then DG, Vigilance, SN Vashisht recorded conjectural remarks on his own and his vague comments on thorough and detailed report given by the ADGP at best amounted to a crude cover up attempt to whittle down the well reasoned documented detailed inquiry report of the ADGP …,’’ said the legal opinion tendered by Haryana advocate general BR Mahajan.