HARYANA HAS referred to the CBI two more cases linked to alleged tweaks in the land acquisition process in Rohtak and Sonipat during the tenure of the previous Congress government under Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The announcement came a day after the Supreme Court set aside the decision in 2007 of the then Hooda government to release 688 acres in Manesar from the acquisition process.
According to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, a total of 698 acres, including 418 acres in Sonipat and 280 acres in Rohtak, were released from acquisition proceedings in the same way as it was done in Manesar during Hooda’s tenure at the helm.
“The injustice done to the farmers will be revealed by the investigation,” Khattar said during the ongoing Budget session of the Vidhan Sabha.
Soon after Khattar’s announcement, BJP MLAs in the Assembly raised slogans demanding Hooda’s immediate arrest. Hooda, who remained Haryana’s Chief Minister from 2004 to 2014, was not present in the Assembly — he has not marked his presence since the ongoing Budget session commenced March 5.
Speaking to The Indian Express later, Hooda said, “What can I comment? All I can say is that these acts of the government are nothing but political vendetta against me”.
Khattar said, “Hooda should have the courage and honesty to admit to wrongdoing, and refrain from labelling the probe as a political conspiracy. There is no one, including those dear to them, whom the Congress has not cheated. They have not even spared the people of Rohtak district.”
In its judgment pertaining to Rohtak, on May 13, 2016, the Supreme Court had stated: “State Government may enquire into the legality and bona fides of the action of the persons responsible for illegally entertaining the applications of the builder and releasing the land to it…”
According to case records, Uddar Gagan Properties Limited, a builder and developer, allegedly entered into collaboration agreements in Rohtak with some of the farmers-owners whose land was under acquisition, on March 2, 2005, to develop a colony. The same month, the builder applied to the Haryana Town and Country Planning Department for grant of licence to develop a colony covering 280 acres.
The licences were granted in June 2006 and the land was released from acquisition, the records show. The licences were addressed to the land owners but remitted to the builder, according to records, and this was followed by execution of sale deeds in favour of the builder through power of attorney.
In Sonipat, 642 acres of land in five villages were to be acquired for residential and commercial sectors, and developed by the then Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), show case records. However, a notification under section 6 of the Act was issued on January 16, 2004 for the acquisition of 623.70 acres of land.
Later, some landowners approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court terming the acquisition process as a “colourable exercise of power for benefit of private builders in whose favour the land…. has been released after the issuance of Section 6…”
In this matter, the High Court on February 4, 2014, observed that “… out of more than 600 acres of land decided to be acquired for that purpose, more than 418 acres of land already stands released in favour of the private builders”.
On Tuesday, the Chief Minister pointed out that the state government had handed over investigations in three cases — re-allotment of a plot to Associated Journals Limited (AJL) in Panchkula, allotment of an industrial plot by Haryana Sahri Vikas Pradhikaran in Panchkula and the Manesar land case — to the CBI.
Referring to the Supreme Court’s judgment on the Manesar case, Khattar said, “It has termed such activities as mala fide exercise of powers and a clear case of misuse of power. Apart from this, the apex court has also ordered to investigate the role of middlemen in land acquisition. Now everything would be revealed during the investigation.”
Khattar said the apex court had also ordered that a decision on the Dhingra Commission, set up to probe grant of land licences, be announced within two months so that “pending issues could be cracked”.
Responding to a document handed over by the INLD to the government over the alleged irregularities committed during the Congress regime, Khattar said action was being taken on every issue after proper investigation. “We do not take action against any one in the spirit of revenge or out of political malice. All acts and decisions are taken only after investigation,” he said.