|AJL-National Herald Panchkula land grab scam case|
|Court||Punjab and Haryana High Court|
|Political scams in India|
AJL-National Herald Panchkula land grab scam case, allegedly against Bhupinder Singh Hooda currently in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, is under investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED). This case pertains to Hooda's alleged role for misusing his position as then Chief Minister of Haryana to cause wrongful gains to the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and corresponding loss to the Government of Haryana, by illegally allotting a government plot of land worth several crores rupees (billions) to AJL for INR 59 lakh (5.9 million). Then Chief Minister, Hooda, was also the chairman of HUDA, a government entity which re-allotted the plot to AJL in 2005 in violations of rules and against the advise of the HUDA officials. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar's BJP government of Haryana transferred the case to CBI, and CBI filed the FIR in April 2016. CBI booked Hooda for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating and misuse of official position by public servants. AJL, which also owns National Herald, is controlled by the Indian National Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi among others.
AJL was not legally entitled for the allotment. Plot was originally allotted to AJL in 1982. As per the rules[clarification needed], ownership was repossessed by the government in 1992 due to non-construction by AJL within the mandatory period. AJL's applications to have the plot re-allotted were dismissed in 1995 and again in 1996. AJL waited for a favorable entity to come to power for getting the re-allotment. When Hooda became Chief Minister in 2005, he illegally re-allotment the plot to the AJL.
There are 6 CBI cases and several other vigilance department investigations against Hooda underway. Central Bureau of Investigation is investigating several scams, mostly related to illegal land grab, that took place during his rule in Haryana. These investigations include the Gurugram-Manesar IMT land scam, Robert Vadra DLF land grab scam, Gurugram Rajiv Gandhi Trust land grab scam, Sonepat-Kharkhoda IMT land scam case, Garhi Sampla Uddar Gagan land scam, Panchkula-HUDA Industrial plots allotment scam, Haryana Forestry scam case and Haryana Raxil drug purchase scam. He has been already chargesheeted in the Manesar-Gurugram land scam, while other cases are still under investigation (c. March 2018).
Modus of scam
[Bhupinder Singh Hooda] misused his position and caused wrongful gains to the AJL and corresponding loss to the state exchequer.
In this AJL-National Herald Panchkula land grab scam, the Congress government gave the National Herald 3,500 square meters of plot number C-17 in Sector 6 of Panchkula in Haryana in 1982 [during Bhajan Lal's Indian National Congress rule] to publish a newspaper, but for ten years, there was no newspaper published from here. Hence, as per the rules the land should have been returned to the government, but the ownership was illegally transferred to AJL/National Herald by Hooda government in 2013. This case and National Herald's possession of INR 2000 crores worth land are being currently investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (c. December 2017). Against the advise of HUDA officials to re-advertise the plot for auction and to honor the legal precedence/remembrance (prior rejections of AJL's application for the re-allotment), Hooda re-allotted it to AJL in 2005 at the original 1982 rates with interest.
Applicable sections of penal code
FIR, filed on the complaint of Haryana State Vigilance Bureau's deputy superintendent, Ashok Kumar, has following sections of the Indian Penal Code: Sections 409, 420 and 120-B. CBI's DSP, R.S. Gunjiyal, was mentioned in FIR the investigating officer (IO) of the case.
Case was initially investigated by the Haryana State Vigilance Bureau, then taken over by the ED and CBI.
Persons under investigation
On 1 December 2018, CBI filed the chargesheet against Hooda, Moti Lal Vohra and AJL Ltd for the allotment of 3360 sqm plot in Sector 6 in 2005 in violation of the rules. As per the chargesheet, the plot was originally allotted in 1982, but allotment automatically lapsed as no construction was carried out within the prescribed ten years, resulting in HUDA (now called HSVP) retaking the ownership of the plot in 1992. Chargesheet states that Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who was then chairman of HUDA and chief minister of Haryana, re-allotted the plot in 2005 at 1982 price with interest by violating the rules, resulting in loss of INR 620,000 to the govt of Haryana. On 3rd December 2018, ED also attached the said plot under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Releated AJL scam cases
A separate AJL owned National Herald scam case against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi is going on in the Supreme court, filed by Subramanian Swamy, for the alleged criminal misappropriation by both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in which the courts have determined that a prima face case has been established. Associated Journals Limited is an unlisted public company limited by shares, ownership of which was transferred to Young India in 2011. AJL published the National Herald newspaper and also owns real estate worth at ₹50 billion (US$700 million) in various cities including New Delhi, Lucknow, Bhopal, Mumbai, Indore, Patna and Panchkula.
- Corruption in India
- National Herald scam
- Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust land grab cases
- Robert Vadra land grab cases
- List of scams in India
- Hooda misused post to give land to AJL: ED, Times of India, 20 Jul 2017.
- CBI registers FIR against ex-Haryana CM Hooda in AJL land allotment case, The Tribune (India), 6 April 2017.
- CBI files case against Bhupinder Hooda in AJL land allotment probe, Indian Express, 6 April 2017.
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- "Section 269T in The Income- Tax Act, 1995", indiankanoon.org, retrieved 2015-12-08
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- Hooda under investigation by CBI in several cases, Navbharat Times, 13 Mar 2018.
- CBI to probe two more Hooda govt land deals, The Tribune, 14 March 2018.
- Rahul ji! See how Gandhi family has grabbed thousands of acres of farmers, Perform India, 7 Dec 2017.
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- CBI files chargesheet against ex-Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Congress leader Motilal Vora in AJL land allotment case, Economic Times, 1 December 2018.
- ED Attaches Land Allotted To National Herald’s Parent Company By Erstwhile Congress Government, Swarajya megazine, 3 Dec 2018.
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- Full text: Sonia, Rahul accused of grabbing Rs 1,600 cr property, Firstpost, 1 November 2012
- "The nitty-gritty of 'The National Herald' case". The Hindu. 10 December 2015.