In a major crackdown in the National Herald (NH) case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has taken possession of the Rs.64 crores-worth building and property in Panchkula, allotted to the newspaper publishing company Associated Journals Limited (AJL). The Adjudicating Authority under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on Wednesday confirmed ED’s move to attach Panchkula property in December 2018. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and ED have registered charge sheets against then Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda and officials for illegally allotting the land in 2005.
Congress leader Motilal Vora is the Managing Director of the Public Limited company AJL. Other Directors are Congress leaders Oscar Fernadez and Sonia Gandhi family’s associates Sam Pitroda and Suman Dubey. In 2011, this 80-year-old public limited company was covertly taken over by a private company named Young Indian, owned by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Both have 38 percent shares each in this newly floated firm with no assets. Through a dubious way, Young Indian took over 99.9% shares of the AJL, which has more than Rs.2000 crores worth land assets across India, spanning from Delhi, Panchkula, Lucknow, Mumbai etc. The bizarre fraud was exposed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in November 2012. Currently, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders are out on bail in the criminal case filed by Subramanian Swamy.
National Heralds’ headquarters in Delhi – Herald House – is already facing eviction and takeover notice from the Ministry of Urban Development.
In mid-2014, Swamy filed cases to Income Tax, ED, CBI and state governments of Haryana, Maharashtra to probe into the land allotment frauds, tax frauds in the National Herald case. Income Tax has imposed a heavy fine of Rs.414 crores on Young Indian, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and currently the case is pending before Supreme Court after the appeal is filed by the accused.
“…Since the value of plot (in Panchkula) fraudulently allotted to 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 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.
National Heralds’ headquarters in Delhi – Herald House – is already facing eviction and takeover notice from the Ministry of Urban Development. The case is currently pending in Supreme Court on the appeal filed by the accused. Maharashtra Government has formed a committee headed by officials to look into the illegality of land allotment in Bandra. This prime land was illegally given to some real estate lobby and the Committee found lot of violations in 2016. However, the Maharashtra Government has not taken further action on this blatant violation and illegalities in Bandra land allotments.
 Plot for National Herald: Report points to violation of lease terms – Feb 10, 2016, Hindustan Times
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