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Ex-Haryana CM Hooda had overruled top officials to restore Panchkula plot to AJL

CBI found the officials had no role in allotment of the Panchkula plot to AJL as they had opposed it on the file.

chandigarh Updated: May 30, 2019 11:38 IST
Hitender Rao
Hitender Rao
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Bhupinder Hooda,AJL plot in Panchkula,ED
The Associated Journals Limited (AJL) building at sector 6, Panchkula. (Sant Arora / HT Photo )

Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda facing criminal proceedings for allegedly reallocating an institutional plot in Panchkula to Associated Journals Limited (AJL), publisher of the National Herald newspaper, had overruled top officials including the law secretary in doing the same. The 3,500 square metre plot was first allotted to AJL in 1982 but resumed by Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) in 1992 due to no construction on the land.

Hooda, who by virtue of being the chief minister, was the chairman of Haryana Urban Development Authority, the entity which allotted, resumed and restored the plot to AJL, had passed a speaking order (a reasoned order) to restore the plot.

Documents accessed by the Hindustan Times revealed that when the file was moved afresh for considering AJL’s request for restoring the plot, the then HUDA (HQ) administrator Vineet Garg had endorsed the file noting of his estate officer, who wrote: “In case it’s decided to restore the allotment, it shall be treated a case of fresh allotment and shall be made at the current allotment rates as decided by the authority. Approval of HUDA chairman will be required in the matter. Therefore, the matter shall be placed before the authority for consideration and decision.”

Also Read | ED gets nod to take possession of AJL plot in Panchkula

The then HUDA chief administrator SS Dhillon, while referring to dismissal of AJL’s appeal and revision plea against the resumption orders and the fact that no further appeal laid in matter, wrote on May 2, 2005: “There is no merit in the request and the case needs to be filed.” Dhillon’s stance was also endorsed by then principal secretary of town and country planning department Shakuntla Jakhu.

The then additional principal secretary to the chief minister, Chattar Singh, on July 4, 2005, wrote that file be resubmitted for orders of CM after obtaining legal opinion. The law secretary in his opinion held: “The revision petition having been dismissed way back in 1996, the order of resumption has attained finality. There can thus be no question of reallotment or restoration of the plot to the same allottee. If, however, the provisions of the policy allow, fresh allotment at prevalent rates can be made as per procedure for allotment of institutional sites.”

Dhillon on August 18, 2005, wrote on the file: “The legal opinion may kindly be seen… The said plot can be advertised and AJL can apply against this plot.”

HOODA BOOKED IN 2016

The state vigilance bureau had in May 2016 booked Hooda and three officials – the then HUDA chief administrator SS Dhillon; the then town and country planning principal secretary Shakuntla Jakhu and then HUDA (HQ) administrator Vineet Garg for allegedly restoring the resumed plot. The case was in 2017 referred to the CBI by the state government for investigations.

The CBI had registered a regular case (RC) against Hooda and the officials under Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant), 420 ( cheating), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act ( misuse of official position by public servant) against Hooda, the officials and Associated Journals Limited. During the investigation,the CBI found that the government officials had no role in the allotment of plot to AJL as they had opposed it on the file.

HT had in 2016 reported that the BJP government had wrongly named the officials in the FIR registered by vigilance bureau.

First Published: May 30, 2019 11:38 IST