Exclusive: Hooda Claims AJL Paid 95 Lakh for Land, ED Case a Farce
The Quint speaks to Haryana’s former CM about ED’s money-laundering case against him.
In an exclusive interview with The Quint, the former Chief Minister of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that the Associated Journal Ltd (AJL) paid Rs 95 lakh to acquire a plot of land in Panchkula in 2005.
On 5 May 2015, the vigilance department of the Haryana police registered an FIR against Hooda and the office bearer of AJL under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Recently, it came to light that the ED registered a money-laundering case against Hooda for allocating land to the Associated Journal Ltd (AJL) at an unreasonably low price, causing losses to the government to the tune of Rs 62 lakh.
Here is what Hooda said:
What do you have to say about the money-laundering case registered against you by the Enforcement Directorate?
It’s nothing but a political vendetta. Government is using investigating agencies to arm twist Congress leaders.
The allegation against you is that you re-allocated the plot in 2005 at 1982 rates. Is this true?
The allegation is entirely untrue. In 1982, the AJL procured the land in 2 Lakh rupees. In 2005, the cost of land was 59 lakh. When the land was re-allocated, with the cost of the land, and also the interest and other charges, the sum total paid by AJL was 95 lakh rupees.
The FIR says the land was allocated at a lower price, causing an exchequer loss of 62 lakh rupees, on the basis of which a money-laundering case has been registered against you. What do you have to say?
There is no question of a 62 lakh rupees worth of exchequer loss because AJL not only paid the cost of the land but also interest. Secondly, there is no evidence to prove quid-pro-quo or bribe. Then on what ground did ED register a case under money-laundering?
ED FIR says that you favoured AJL in the re-allocation of the plot although some officials of Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) were against the re-allocation?
The land was allocated as per the rules and regulations. In fact, after the re-allocation of the plot of land, AJL paid the cost plus surplus charges/fines. There is no question of any favour. Land was allocated to other newspapers too.
Do you have enough evidence to defend yourself against all the allegations?
Of course there are enough documents to prove that no favour was done to AJL in the re-allocation of the land. Let investigators to their job. I have done nothing wrong.
Have you been summoned for questioning by the Haryana police or ED?
So far, I have not been summoned by Haryana police or ED. I got to know about these FIRs from media reports.
Your son Deepender Singh Hooda, who is also an MP, is one of the office bearers of AJL. Allegations are made that this post was given as favour to your son?
The land was re-allocated in 2005 and my son became Director of AJL just 6 months ago. Then how can it be a favour? Moreover, he is not paid for this post. His job is only to make some editorial decisions.
After speaking to Hooda, The Quint spoke to some investigating officials to delve deeper into the case. One of the officials in defence of their agency said that the “investigation is at a very initial stage and it would be too early to comment.”
Other investigating officials were more obliging:
The money-laundering case against Hooda is shoddy and might not stand in the long run as there is no evidence of quid-pro-quo. But this case will help the agency to get hold of all the documents pertaining to Hooda’s investments. Scrutiny of these documents might give leads to other scams which are still under wraps. And this is true not only for Hooda but also for the documents that the ED is likely to get from AJL officeSenior Official, Investigating agency
A big question mark hangs on the money-laundering case against Hooda. Will this case be another AgustaWestland or the National Herald scam which has been used by the BJP government as a trump card against the opposition?
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