Haryana ex-CM Hooda booked in National Herald case

The Haryana State Vigilance Bureau has registered a case of cheating and corruption against former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and four officials who were in the Haryana Urban Development Authority for allegedly realloting a plot to Associated Journals Limited (AJL) in Panchkula in 2005.

Hooda was the chairman of HUDA at that time, although the first information report does not mention his name.

Apart from the chairman, the FIR also lists HUDA's then chief administrator and administrator under Sections 409, 420 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. It also includes the state financial commissioner and office-bearers of AJL, New Delhi.

When contacted, Hooda said, ''I am yet to see the FIR and will be able to comment after I study it.''

The case relates to alleged irregularities in the allotment of a 3,360-sq-m plot in Sector 6, Panchkula, to AJL. The plot was allotted by the previous Hooda-led Congress government six months after it came to power in Haryana in 2005. AJL was then the publisher of The National Herald newspaper.

The FIR states that on 18 August 2005, the then HUDA chief ''misused his post and violated rules'' to order the allotment of the plot at the rates prevailing in 1982. The plot was originally allotted to AJL in 1982 but reclaimed in 1996 after the company failed to make use of it.

On 1 September 2005, the firm sought one year's time to start construction, which was approved by HUDA officials. The FIR states that the then HUDA chairman, chief administrator and administrator, and the financial commissioner misused their positions to provide undue benefits to AJL causing a loss of Rs64 lakh to the state exchequer.

On 4 May, leader of the opposition in the Vidhan Sabha and Indian National Lok Dal leader Abhay Singh Chautala had written to Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar demanding the registration of a criminal case against Hooda on charges of criminal breach of trust embezzlement, forgery, corruption and criminal conspiracy.

Sector 6 is considered as one of the prime sectors of Panchkula and is home to a government hospital and the offices of HUDA, Haryana State Industries and Infrastructural Development Corporation (HSIIDC), the state marketing board, and the forest department, among others