The CBI today raided several premises belonging to former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, including his Rohtak residence. Hooda, speaking to the media, said the raids and the registering of a new case was ‘political vendetta’.
What is the background of the case against former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda?
The Haryana government under then Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had, in 2009, initiated the process to acquire 1,407 acres of land in eight villages around Gurgaon. The acquisition was for the purpose of development and utilization of land for residential sectors 58 to 63, and residential-commercial sectors 65 to 67 of Gurgaon.
However, some villagers had later approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court to argue that while the acquisition process had been initiated for public purposes, the state government had, after having purchased from poor agriculturists, released about 95% of the land to private builders. On their plea, the High Court had quashed the notification under which the land was acquired.
The Hooda government had challenged the HC order in the Supreme Court. In the SC, the petitioners had asked how, despite 1,407 acres having been initially notified for acquisition, the compensation award had finally been passed for only 87 acres in December 2011. The current BJP state government led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had informed the SC that it had no objection to a CBI probe into the matter.
On November 1, 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered an investigation by the CBI.
Hooda holds a Press Conference in Rohtak.
The CBI is conducting raids at 20 places in Delhi-NCR, Gurgaon, Chandigarh and Mohali, including the residential premises of Hooda in Rohtak.
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What is the significance of the FIR against Hooda at this juncture?
The CBI’s raid at Hooda’s residence in Rohtak on Friday came barely hours before he was to travel to Jind in Haryana, where he was scheduled to address an election rally. Voting for the Assembly bypoll in Jind will take place on January 28. It is a high-profile election, in which the Congress has fielded its national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala. Also, the Haryana Assembly polls are due in October this year.
After the CBI raids, Hooda alleged that the action was aimed at diverting the attention of the people. “They (the BJP government) can’t suppress my voice. I am from a family of freedom fighters,” Hooda said. A close associate of the former CM, former Haryana Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Sharma, said that the CBI raid had been timed to prevent Hooda from going to Jind.
Following the raid, Hooda did not go to the rally in Jind. However, his son and MP from Rohtak Deepender Singh Hooda, went there to address the rally.
In a statement, the CBI said that it had lodged the fresh FIR on the orders of the Supreme Court.
What is the status of the other cases against Hooda?
This is the fifth FIR against Hooda since the BJP came to power in Haryana and at the Centre. Of the four earlier FIRs, three have been filed by the CBI, and one by the Haryana Police.
Accusing Hooda of conspiracy and abuse of official position in 2005, the CBI had in December 2018 filed a chargesheet against him and senior Congress leader Motilal Vora in a case linked to the National Herald newspaper. The case relates to the re-allotment of a 3,360 sq m institutional plot to Associated Journals Limited (AJL) in Panchkula town by the Hooda government.
In the Manesar land scam, the CBI has named Hooda as the “main conspirator”, alleging that the scam had caused a loss of “over Rs 1,000 crore” to the state exchequer.
The CBI had also filed an FIR in connection with alleged irregularities in the allotment of 14 industrial plots in Panchkula.
And in September 2018, the Haryana Police filed an FIR against Hooda and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra in connection with the Vadra-DLF land deal of 2008.