CBI raids residences of Haryana ex-CM Hooda, others

In more trouble for former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the Central Bureau of Investigation searched his residence at Rohtak today.

A CBI spokesperson said apart from Hooda's residence, searches are also being made at the residence of M L Tayal, former principal secretary to the chief minister, Union Public Service Commission member Chattar Singh, Indian Administrative Service officer S S Dhillon and officers of the district town and county planning department.

Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party government took over in Haryana in 2014, Hooda has found himself embroiled in one controversy after the other with cases registered against him or probes being initiated. Hooda has termed this as ''political vendetta'' and said he is open to any kind of inquiry.

The CBI raids pertain to a case registered by the agency in September 2015 in connection with the release of around 400 acres of land acquired by the previous Congress government at throwaway prices from villagers in Gurgaon, which were allegedly sold off to private builders. The case was against ''unknown public servants of Haryana government and unknown private persons''.

In July, 2016, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) registered a case against Hooda and the Associated Journal Ltd, the publisher of National Herald newspaper and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in a disproportionate land allotment case.

There were alleged irregularities in the allotment of 3,360 square metre plot in Sector 6, Panchkula to AJL. The plot was allotted six months after the Hooda government came to power in 2005. It is alleged that as the then ex-officio chairman of Haryana Urban Development Authority, Hooda caused a loss of Rs65 lakh to the state exchequer.

Further, Hooda is under the CBI scanner for alleged irregularities in allotment of industrial plots when he was chairman of HUDA. In May this year, CBI lodged a First Information Report naming the then chairman HUDA and 14 beneficiaries of the plots. Raids were conducted then as well at Hooda's residence in Rohtak and other places.

It is alleged that 14 industrial plots ranging from 496 square metres to 1,280 square metres were allotted at throwaway prices after changes were made midway in eligibility criteria. Among the beneficiaries of the plots were widow of Hooda's nephew, son of his secretary, daughter-in-law of his OSD and son of a close aide. Relatives of two Congress MLAs were also beneficiaries of the plots.

Earlier this week, the Justice S N Dhingra-led commission submitted its report to the Haryana government. The commission probed the grant of licenses for change in land use in four villages of Gurgaon, including the license granted to a company owned by Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.  After submitting the 182 page report Justice Dhingra said that he has brought to light manner in which irregularities were committed. Hooda has demanded that the report be made public.