ED names top Congress leaders Vora, Hooda in AJL land allotment case

Motilal Vora Bhupinder Hooda AJL National Herald case
Senior Congress leader Motilal Vora and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

Top Congress leader Motilal Vora and former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda were named in a charge sheet, the first filed by the Enforcement Directorate in the allegedly illegal land allotment in Panchkula to the Congress-promoted Associated Journals Limited (AJL).

A prosecution complaint was filed before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Panchkula near Chandigarh, the federal probe agency said.

The money laundering case pertains to alleged irregularities and money laundering charges in the allotment of a plot, located at C-17, Sector-6 in Panchkula, by the Hooda-headed Haryana government in 1992 to the AJL.

AJL is controlled by senior Congress leaders, including members of the Gandhi family. The group runs the National Herald newspaper.

The agency named Vora, Hooda and AJL charging they were “directly involved in the process and activity connected with acquisition, possession or projection of proceeds of crime”.

Vora, a Rajya Sabha member, is a general secretary in the Congress party. Hooda, slamming the Congress stand on the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status recently, said it had “lost its way” and was no longer the party it used to be and threatened that he may chart a new political course.

“Hooda favoured the AJL by granting them three undue extensions for construction in the said plot from May, 2008-May 10, 2012 until the AJL completed the construction in the year 2014,” the ED said in a statement. The agency charged that Hooda allotted the pot to AJL by “blatantly misusing his official position”.

The CBI has filed a charge sheet against Hooda and others in this case.  The plot was allotted to AJL first in 1982. But the allotment was revoked by the estate officer of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) by an order in October, 1992 as AJL did not comply with the conditions of allotment letter, the ED said. The agency had questioned the two Congress leaders in this case last year.

The ED has already attached the plot estimated to be valued at ₹64.93 crore and this is the first charge sheet in the case by the agency.

A related I-T probe against Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul has arisen from the investigation into a private criminal complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. Sonia and Rahul were granted bail in the case by the trial court on December 19, 2015.

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Sonia, Rahul and others have been accused of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by paying just Rs 50 lakh, through which Young Indian (YI) had obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) owed to the Congress party.

It was alleged that Young Indian, which was incorporated in November 2010 with a capital of Rs 50 lakh, had acquired almost all the shareholding of AJL, which was running the National Herald newspaper.

(With inputs from agencies)