Associate Journal case returns to haunt Bhupinder Singh Hooda

Bhupinder Hooda had described the case as totally politically motivated adding that plot was re-allotted by charging interest, writes PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL

While Haryana government has moved with jet speed in what is known as Associate Journal case (AJL) for registering a case against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Hooda for re-allotting a plot to AJL, for publication of a newspaper, it is maintaining a studied silence in a similar case of allotment of a prime plot allotted to Jan Sewa Trust in Gurugram for setting up high-tech printing press for publishing newspaper. Krishan Kumar setter of the trust registered at Delhi is stated to be a close relative of former Haryana chief minister, Om Prakash Chautala.

Tehelka investigations reveal that no printing press is functioning and no newspaper is being printed from the building constructed on the plot in the prime location of Udyog Vihar, Gurugram. In fact, six out of the seven stories of the building have been rented out to India Bulls, a real estate company owned by Narender Gehlot and Sammer Gehlot at a hefty amount of rent. Only a skeleton office has been set up on its sixth floor where few employees were present watching television. Even the copy of the weekly newspaper, Jansandesh, which the trust publishes was not available in the office, whereas, about twenty newspapers were available. A copy of  746 issue of the paper, dated 26th May 2018 was displayed on the notice board.

This exposed the double standard of the Haryana government in dealing the similar cases. While Bhupinder Hooda is bete noire of BJP and had launched a campaign in the state against various acts of commission and commission of Haryana government, headed by Manohar Lal, Haryana government has a soft corner for Om Parkash Chautala for obvious reasons. Firebrand Congress MLA Karan Dalal, who in his capacity of the chairperson of the estimate committee of the Haryana assembly had investigated the matter a decade ago and recommended appropriate action in accordance with the law, but still no action has been taken.

Dalal told Tehelka, “Prime plot was allotted for running newspaper but instead publishing any newspaper, the building had been given on rent against rules. During the year 2007-08, when I  in my capacity of the chairperson of the estimate committee of Haryana Assembly had visited the site and found that no newspaper was being published from there. Also, the site was rented to India Bulls company. Dalal demanded that Haryana government should immediately resume the plot for violations of term and conditions of the allotment.

Ran Singh Maan, spokesman of Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee told Tehelka that in fact, the government needs to take action against Jan Sewa Trust for using the property as commercial whereas, it was allotted for publication of the newspaper. Maan further told that the Haryana Urban Development Authority Act clearly provides for such a definite step for resuming estate property and action should have been dully taken.

Talking about Associate Journals Limited case, Maan told that discrimination has been done by selecting for adverse action and thereafter lodging of F.I.R ignoring the precious role played by National Herald during the freedom struggle.

When approached for comments, Rajiv Jain, media adviser of chief minister Manohar Lal told that he was not aware of the facts of the case and was busy in some social function. However, Raman Malik, party’s spokesman told that although he was not aware of the facts of the case at this moment, he assured to talk with the officer concerned He, however, assured that the government will get the issue examined and definitely take action according to law.

What is AJL case?

Associated Journals Limited publisher of newspaper National Herald was allotted a plot measuring 3360  square meters by Haryana Urban Development Authority which has been now named as Haryana Sahari Vikas Pradhikaran in 1982 at Panchkula. According to the terms of allotment, the company was to start construction within six months and complete it in two years. When AJL failed to construct the building H.U.D.A, had resumed it in 1992 and AJL ’s appeal was also turned down by the department in 1995.

Meanwhile, an appeal was made to then chief minister Bhupinder Hooda in his capacity as chairman of H.U.D.A. Hooda took over as chief minister in 2005 and he was pressurized by Congress high command for re-allotment of the plot. Hooda re-allotted the plot at an old rate of 1982 although with interest. In the meantime, Manohar Lal became the chief minister and the government referred the case to the State Vigilance Bureau which registered a case against Hooda. After that, the government transferred the case to CBI and recently, the Haryana Governor, Satyadev Narayan Arya, had accorded sanction for prosecution of Hooda in the case which is mandatory according to the new law as Hooda being a public servant. It is alleged that Bhupinder Singh Hooda had re-allotted the plot at Rs fifty-nine lakhs where the market value at that time was  Rs. twenty-two crores thus causing huge loss to the exchequer. Moreover, even the legal opinion was sought by the government was not in favour of re-allotment.

Bhupinder Hooda had described the case as totally politically motivated adding that plot was re-allotted by charging interest.

Gurugram showroom re-allotment case

In the AJL case, the Haryana government initially ordered a probe by the State Vigilance and later the case was referred to CBI for investigations, but in a similar case which is more serious in nature, Estate officer of Haryana Shahri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP) Gurugram, Mukesh Solanki, had re-allotted three showrooms at Gurugram which were resumed in 1998 for non-payment in 2018 at old price of 1998. The Haryana government is not giving permission to the Vigilance Bureau for the probe. Solanki who was earlier suspended has got stay on his suspension from Punjab and Haryana High court on the ground that he had re-allotted the showrooms on directions of senior officers.

This is more serious as the party concerned has lost the case in courts. Solanki told Tehelka that he had done it on the basis of a letter written by the Head office (copy of letter attached).

Haryana government had suspended Solanki on the recommendations of the Chief Administrator of HSVP, J Ganeshan and AK Singh, Commissioner of the HSVP. Ganeshan has been shifted from the department. Both Ganeshan and  Singh have described Solanki’s
action in re-allotment of show-rooms as illegal.

Solanki, however, got stay against his suspension from Punjab and Haryana Govt. arguing that his action was on basis of the letter written by the headquarter. However, on the recommendations of Ganeshan, showrooms in question have been resumed by the department thus saving twenty crores as showrooms were re-allotted at the old price of one crore whereas, the market price of today is around Twenty crores. Highly placed sources told Tehelka that PR Dev, DG Vigilance is sitting over file seeking his permission for inquiring the matter. There is feeling in official circles that this case should also be referred to CBI which is inquiring Associate Journals Ltd case as both are of similar nature.Role of office of Chief Minister is also under cloud in the case as the representation of affected party for consideration of their case for re-allotment was forwarded to H.S.V.P,authorities by the office of C.M ignoring the fact that party had lost case in various courts.Rajesh Khullar,P.S. of C.M, told that he was duty bound to forward any representation received by him.