ED attaches AJL's Panchkula land under money laundering charges
New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate said Monday it has attached under the anti-money laundering law a plot of land in Panchkula that was allotted by the Haryana government in 2005 to the Associated Journals Limited (AJL), allegedly controlled by senior Congress leaders.
The central probe agency said it issued a provisional order of attachment under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act on December 1, the day CBI filed a chargesheet against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and others for allegedly using fraudulent means to allot the land to AJL.
"... Since, the value of plot fraudulently allotted to AJL has represented proceeds of crime, the ED has attached the plot under PMLA Act," the agency said in a statement.
The AJL is reportedly controlled by senior Congress leaders, including members of the Gandhi family. The group runs the National Herald newspaper.
The plot has been attached under Section 5 of the PMLA (attachment of property involved in money laundering) and further investigation is in process, it said.
The ED said Hooda, as the then CM, "misused his official position by dishonestly and fraudulently allotting the said plot to AJL afresh in the guise of re-allotment at the rates prevalent in 1982 (Rs 91 per sqm) plus interest despite the fact that the cancellation of allotment of the plot had earlier attained finality and it could not legally be re-allotted."
It added that the re-allotment of the plot in 2005 "unjustly benefitted" AJL.
The agency said its probe found that Hooda "granted undue extensions thrice to Ms AJL for construction of the said plot and after acquisition of the said plot projected it as untainted property and further acquired loans from the bank by way of mortgaging the same from tie to time."
The CBI chargesheet, filed in a Panchkula court on December 1, named Congress leader Motilal Vora besides Hooda in connection with the alleged irregularities in the re-allotment of the plot.
The ED has questioned the two senior Congress leaders in connection with this case.
The CBI has alleged that the re-allotment of the plot, no C-17 located in Sector-6 of Panchkula, has caused a loss of Rs 67 lakh to the exchequer.
The case pertains to the plot allotted to AJL in Panchkula in 1982 for the publication of Hindi newspaper 'Nav Jivan' on which no construction took place till 1992.
The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) then took back possession of the plot.
The ED had filed a PMLA complaint in this case in 2016 based on a CBI FIR, which had taken over investigations in this case at the request of the BJP government of Haryana, and the criminal FIRs filed by the Haryana vigilance bureau.