Business Standard

ED to take possession of AJL land in Panchkula after PMLA authority approval


Press Trust of India New Delhi
The ED will soon take possession of a land worth Rs 64.93 crore in Panchkula, allotted to the Congress party promoted Associated Journals Limited (AJL) by the Haryana government in 2005, after a quasi-judicial authority under the anti-money laundering law recently approved its order, the agency said Wednesday.
It alleged that the plot was illegally reallotted by former Haryana chief minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda to AJL by "blatantly misusing his official position".
The central probe agency has issued a provisional attachment order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on December 1 last year for attaching the plot located at C-17, Sector-6 in Panchkula.
On the same day, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a charge sheet against Hooda and others for allegedly using fraudulent means to allot land to the AJL.
The AJL is controlled by senior Congress leaders, including members of the Gandhi family. The group runs the National Herald newspaper.
"...Since the value of plot fraudulently allotted to the AJL has represented proceeds of crime, the ED has attached plot under the PMLA Act," the ED had said in a statement.
Now, the ED said Wednesday, that the Adjudicating Authority of the PMLA "has held that defendants have committed the schedule offence, generated proceeds of crime and further found that the properties attached are proceeds of crime beyond any doubt and thereby ordered for confirmation of the provisional attachments order".
With this approval, the ED is empowered to take possession of the land and erect its authority signage over the plot that disallows any trespass or activity by anybody over the asset.
However, the plot can be finally transferred to the government exchequer once the trial in the case concludes in favour of the agency, officials said.
The agency said the plot was allotted to AJL first in 1982.
But the same was resumed back 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, it said.
"However, Hooda blatantly misused his official position and dishonestly allotted the said plot afresh in the guise of reallotment to the AJL at original rates plus interest in violation of necessary conditions and policy of HUDA by an order of August 28, 2005 for Rs 59,39,200," the ED charged.
The actual value of the property is about Rs 64.93 crore, it said.
"The then CM (Hooda) caused wrongful loss to HUDA and wrongful gain to AJL by ignoring legal opinion of LR, Haryana and recommendations of HUDA officers and financial commissioner and principal secretary, Town and Country Planning," it said.
The agency also said its probe found that Hooda "granted undue extensions thrice to AJL for construction of the said plot and after acquisition projected it as untainted property and further acquired loans from the bank by way of mortgaging the same from time to time".
The CBI charge sheet, filed before a Panchkula court on December 1 last year, named Congress leader Motilal Vorabesides Hooda in connection with the alleged irregularities in the case.
The ED has questioned the two senior Congress leaders in this case.
It had filed a PMLA complaint in this case in 2016 based on a CBI FIR, which had taken over investigations in this case at the request of the BJP government of Haryana, and the criminal FIRs filed by the Haryana vigilance bureau.

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First Published: May 29 2019 | 4:35 PM IST

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