A special CBI court, while framing the charges against Haryana’s former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) plot allotment case, has observed “grave suspicion, prima facie dishonest intention and sufficient ground” against Hooda for framing the charges. While the order had been reserved on April 16 in the matter, a detailed copy of the same was only made available Monday.
Framing the charges under sections 420 (cheating) and 120-B (party to criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and under Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the order read, “The allegations made against the accused are specific not only against him but also against accused AJL… If I discuss the statements of prosecution witnesses coupled with the documents relied upon by the CBI, it cannot be presumed that there is no case at all to proceed. Further, the positive and negative facts, in conjunction with other subsidiary facts, appearing expressly or by implication, from the materials which were before this court at this stage are, at least, sufficient to show that there are grounds for presuming that the accused has committed offences under Sections 120B, 420 IPC and Sections 13(1)(d) r/w 13(2)of the PC Act.”
The counsel for accused, advocate R S Cheema, had submitted in the court that decision for restoration of the said plot was taken bonafidely and falls within the four corners of law.
The court order citing instances of prima facie guilt on part of the accused, observed that despite several corresponding letters between HUDA and AJL chairman for revision of allotment being issued till 1995 requesting for restoration of said institutional plot, the allotment was canceled and appeal for restoration denied due to non-construction on the plot within the stipulated period of two years and a delay in construction for over 12 years from the time of allotment in 1982.
Abid Hussain, the then chairman, AJL, had also written letters in 1997 and 1998 to Bansi Lal, the then chief minister of Haryana, requesting restoration of said institutional plot to the company. However, Bansi Lal had dismissed the request citing non-construction in the plot within the stipulated period and had canceled the allotment, the appeal for restoration and revision petition made by the company.
“It is interesting to mention that there was no written correspondence carried out by accused AJL either with chairman, HUDA authorities from 1998 to 2005 pertaining to restoration of the said institutional plot. Suddenly, the circumstances changed and accused Bhupinder Singh Hooda had become chief minister of Haryana in March, 2005 and it was after a gap of 7 years that a letter dated April 7, 2005, was written by accused Moti Lal Vora (now deceased), as chairman AJL to accused Hooda, the then chief minister,” the court has observed.
As per the order copy, Hooda passed an “illegal order” dated August 28, 2005, despite the fact that the officers of HUDA, the then Legal Remembrancer, Haryana, and the FCTCP had unanimously recommended that the plot in question not be re-allotted to AJL without publishing fresh advertisement of said plot at current rate of Rs 3200 per square yards. Hooda still allotted the land to AJL for running their Hindi-daily ‘Navjivan’ at a cost settled in 1982 at Rs 91 per square yards.
“Hooda, the then CM, Haryana/chairman, HUDA by misusing his official position as CM in conspiracy with accused Motilal Vora (now deceased), chairman, AJL and accused AJL, appears to have committed criminal misconduct and dishonestly cheated Government of Haryana by re-allotting the institutional plot at old rates as applicable in 1982 by flouting the laid down policies of HUDA and caused wrongful gain of Rs 67,65,002/- to accused AJL and corresponding wrongful loss to the Government exchequer,” the single bench observed.