Bhartesh Singh Thakur
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 4
Former chief minister and Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda questioned leaving out his industries minister as accused in Manesar land scam during arguments on charge, but the CBI Special Court ruled that complainant or accused could move the application for the same during the trial.
The case pertains to purchasing land from farmers at meagre rates in Manesar, Lakhnaula and Naurangpur villages in Gurugram and then earning huge profits by getting it released in connivance with bureaucracy and politicians.
As per CBI, Rs 1,044 crore would have come as profit had the project of IMT Manesar had been finalised.
Regarding his order, dated August 24, 2007, for dropping land acquisition, which is cited as evidence of criminal conspiracy, Hooda said that he could have “simply sat on the file for one day and the result would have been the same” but he acted like a “responsible public servant” and had ordered for fresh notification.
After that, a committee comprising the officials of different stakeholder departments recommended for not initiating acquisition in its report on March 26, 2008.
The proposal for dropping acquisition proceedings was resubmitted on November 19, 2009, after Hooda’s re-election, with the concurrence of Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) and the then Industries Minister approved the same on December 24, 2009.
Hooda said he approved the recommendations of the Industries Minister on January 29, 2010.
He argued that “the fact that none of these officers who have approved the recommendations of the Committee or the then Industries Minister have been arraigned as accused in the chargesheet filed by the CBI”, and his implication “goes to show the political vendetta”.
He claimed that the registration of the FIR came in the background of the statements made by Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar and other BJP leaders that he would be sent to jail in land scams.
CBI Special Judge Jagdeep Singh in his detailed order observed that if evidence suggested involvement of public officials including Industries Minister, the trial court would take decision as per the law on the application by accused or complainant.
The Court also dismissed the arguments of former Principal Secretaries to CM-ML Tayal, SS Dhillon and Chattar Singh that amended Prevention of Corruption Act was applicable in their case where prosecution sanction was required even for retired public servants. It said that amendment came on July 26, 2018, much later than submission of the chargesheet.
On Dhillon’s argument that a proposal to deny prosecution sanction to CBI in his case was sent to CM (Khattar) but was kept pending and in meanwhile he retired, the Court said that there was no “final order declining sanction to prosecute” him was ever passed.
Dhillon had also questioned leaving out some serving IAS officers, who had similar or higher role, from the chargesheet.
On missing file in Industries department, the Court observed that the office of CM (Hooda) might have passed the order in question on dropping acquisition proceedings on the basis of “notings /material/comments” and “the absence of relevant file notings (which are stated to be missing) of the Department of Industries assume importance and devious design in making the file notings untraceable cannot be ruled out”.
It added, “In other words, one may say that whatever was inconvenient, the same has gone missing.”