The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered a case of money laundering against former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda in connection with the Manesar land deal case. This is the second case in which Hooda has been charged by the agency after he was accused of money laundering in the case of land transfer to Associate Journals Ltd, which owns the newspaper National Herald.
Last Saturday, the CBI had carried out raids at 24 premises linked to Hooda, his close aides and former and current bureaucrats of the state government in connection with the alleged Manesar land grab case. The ED took cognisance of a corruption case filed by CBI in the matter and registered a case under various sections of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
ED sources said the agency is ascertaining details of the proceeds of the crime arising out of the CBI case and investigating the flow of funds to various people involved in the alleged scam. According to the CBI, farmers in Manesar were cheated of over Rs 1,500 crore in the alleged scam.
“Once the money trail is established, we will proceed with attachment of properties, which may include those belonging to the former CM,” a senior ED official said. The CBI raids were conducted in Rohtak, Gurgaon, Panchkula, Chandigarh and Delhi, and included Hooda’s residence and office. During the searches at Hooda’s residence, CBI sources claimed to have found details of “fund transactions worth crores of rupees”. These transactions are being scrutinised by the agency.
The case pertains to the alleged purchase of 400 acre of land from farmers in Gurgaon for Rs 100 crore when the actual worth (according to market rate) was Rs 1,600 crore. The purchase, according to the CBI, was made between August 2004 to August 2007, under the “threat and false apprehension of acquisition of the land by the state government”.
The CBI said that the Haryana government had initially issued notifications under various sections of the Land Acquisition Act for acquisition of land, measuring about 912 acres, for setting up an Industrial Model Township, which covered Manesar, Lakhnoula and Naurangpur villages. As a result, a large number of land owners allegedly sold their land at throwaway prices.
“It was further alleged that the land, about 400 acre, had been grabbed from the land owners by the private builders under the threat of acquisition at meagre rates. An order was also allegedly passed by the competent authority in government on August 24, 2007, releasing this land from the acquisition process in violation of the government policy and the licences/ CLU were issued to the private builders. An alleged loss of Rs 1500 crore (approx) was caused to the land owners of villages Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula of Gurgaon district,” said the CBI statement.
According to the CBI, it registered a case on September 15, 2015 against “unknown public servants of Haryana government and unknown private persons” alleging that certain private builders in conspiracy with some “public servants of Haryana government including important functionaries and others” had purchased around 400 acre of land from the farmers and land owners of villages Manesar, Naurangpur in Gurgaon at throwaway prices.