Trouble is brewing for the Gandhis in the National Herald case. Weeks after the acquisition notice of its headquarters Herald House in Delhi, by the Union Urban Development Ministry (UDM), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday attached its swanky office in Panchkula, illegally allotted by Haryana Government under the Congress regime in 2005. The central probe agency said that it issued a provisional order of attachment under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on December 1, the day the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a charge sheet against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and others for allegedly using fraudulent means to allot the land to Associate Journals Limited (AJL).
“Since the value of plot fraudulently allotted to AJL has represented proceeds of crime, the ED has attached the plot under PMLA Act,” the agency said in a statement. The plot has been attached under Section 5 of the PMLA (attachment of property involved in money laundering) and further investigation is in process, it said.
Reacting to the development main petitioner and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy congratulated ED and said that he would pursue with Maharashtra Government on the illegal allotment of land in Bandra to National Herald publisher Associated Journals Limited. The State Government had already formed a committee to probe into the irregularities. Finding a series of frauds in the land allotment and usage, the Committee recommended the takeover by the state government and initiating action against the AJL.
Congrats ED for attaching Panchkula NH land. These are in the names of Buddhu and Bottle? Now onward to Bandra plot
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) December 3, 2018
The ED said Hooda, as the then CM, “misused his official position by dishonestly and fraudulently allotting the said plot to AJL afresh in the guise of re-allotment at the rates prevalent in 1982 (Rs 91 per sqm) plus interest despite the fact that the cancellation of allotment of the plot had earlier attained finality and it could not legally be re-allotted.” It added that the re-allotment of the plot in 2005 “unjustly benefitted” AJL.
The agency said its probe found that Hooda “granted undue extensions thrice to AJL for construction of the said plot and after acquisition of the said plot projected it as untainted property and further cquired loans from the bank by way of mortgaging the same from tie to time.” The CBI chargesheet, filed in a Panchkula court on December 1, named Congress leader Motilal Vora besides Hooda in connection with the alleged irregularities in the re-allotment of the plot.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court previous week reserved for orders in the petition filed by AJL against the eviction notice issued by the Union Urban Development Ministry. In the main case, the trial court has scheduled the case to January 11 and cross-examination of Subramanian Swamy by accused Congress leaders will start on that day.