Bhartesh Singh Thakur
Today News Online Service
Chandigarh, February 20
On the Enforcement Directorate (ED) claiming that most of the allottees in industrial plot allotment case are known to him and he favoured them, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, in his statement to the investigating agency, recorded that “whole Haryana knows me”.
“I belong to one of oldest political families of Haryana and knew so many people, of which some happened to figure in the final list of the allottees. It does not mean favouritism was done in the interview,” he added in his statement to the ED.
Hooda had recorded his statement on July 25-July 26, 2019, and is a part of the ED’s prosecution complaint (PC) before the Special Court for the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
As per the PC, filed before a special court on February 15, he had admitted that of the allottees named as accused in the complaint, two were from his village—one is the son of his schoolmate, one is the daughter-in-law of his OSD, one used to play tennis with him, another is a family member of an MLA of his political party, three allottees are family members of the active members of his political party and one allottee is the son of an old acquaintance.
During the questioning, he was shown the list of 16 “worthier non-allottees” and asked if he knew any of those.
Hooda denied knowing any of them but said it was only a coincidence that he knew some of the allottees.
On being questioned further, he stated that he did not ask any of the officers of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) about how the applicants were shortlisted in such a way that most of them were his acquaintances.
When questioned on why plots were offered at lower price than the circle rates, he replied that HUDA was not an organisation for profit.
On changing criteria and dropping experience parameter, Hooda replied that it was done in order to give preference to new entrepreneurs or new start-ups, and to effectively evaluate personal attributes, entrepreneur skills, experience and aptitude of the applicants, and thus the marks of the viva-voce were increased from 15 to 25.
He told the ED that at no stage after interview, agenda sheets or comparative list of marks were put up to him and he did not know about the initial scrutiny of the applications received. He was unaware that Nandita Hooda, one of the allottees, appeared through a proxy during the interview and another allottee, Kanwar Preet Singh Sandhu, was selected despite his not having attached his picture and signed the application form.