The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has booked former Haryana Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda in a matter relating to Congress party-linked National Herald newspaper. Besides Hooda, officials of the Associated Journal Limited (AJL), publisher of the now-defunct National Herald newspaper, and others have been booked on the charges of alleged money laundering.
According to the officials, the central probe agency registered a criminal case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after taking cognisance of a Haryana State Vigilance Bureau FIR of May this year.
There are reports that Hooda and others named in the latest case will be issued summons soon.
Meanwhile, the former Haryana CM and his party have dubbed the ED action as “political vendetta”, denying any wrong-doing on their part.
The matter relates to one alleged corruption and cheating case field by the Haryana Vigilance Bureau on May 5 this year against Hooda and four HUDA officials for allegedly re-alloting a plot to AJL in Panchkula in 2005.
The plot had been initially allotted to AJL in 1982. After the expiry of the lease period in 1996, then Haryana Vikas Party goverment led by Bansi Lal took back its possession. It was, however, re-allotted to AJL after the Congress leader came to power in 2005.
The Vigilance Bureau had alleged that the act by the then HUDA chairman and the officials had caused a huge financial loss to HUDA as the plot should have been sold through open auction instead of being alloted again to AJL.
Opposition parties in Haryana had sought registration of a criminal case in the matter for alleged illegal re-allotment of land in Panchkula from the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government. In a missive to the Chief Minister, Leader of the Opposition Abhay Chautala had said a plot measuring 3,360 square metres in the prime location of Sector 6 in Panchkula was reallotted to the Associated Journals Ltd on June 29, 2005.
(With inputs from the PTI)