On Monday, in the National Herald case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached a plot of land allotted to Associated Journals Limited (AJL) in Panchkula, Haryana by the former chief minister of the state, Bhupinder Singh Hooda in 2005.
AJL is the parent company of Congress party’s mouthpiece – National Herald. According to reports, both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi own 38 per cent stake each in AJL. Moreover, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had founded the AJL.
In a press statement, the ED said, “The investigation by the ED under the PMLA Act, 2002 has revealed that the plot number C-17, sector 6, Panchkula was allotted to the AJL in the year 1982 as per the request of the company to start Nav Jivan newspaper. As the AJL did not comply with the terms and conditions of the allotment, the estate officer, HUDA, Panchkula vide order, dated 30.10.1992, ordered to resume the said plot on the ground that the allottee i.e. AJL violated the requisite terms and conditions of the allotment letter by not starting the construction and completing the same within the stipulated period.”
ED attaches under PMLA, plot no C-17, Sector-6, Panchkula of Associated Journals Ltd(AJL) in #AJLlandallotment case
— ED (@dir_ed) December 3, 2018
Issuing a statement, the agency said, “Since the value of plot fraudulently allotted to AJL has represented proceeds of crime, the ED has attached the plot under PMLA Act.”
The ED further said, as the then CM Hooda, “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.” The agency also mentioned that the re-allotment of the plot in 2005 “unjustly benefitted” the AJL.
Earlier, on December 1, the CBI filed a charge sheet against erstwhile Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and senior Congress leader Motilal Vora in connection with the alleged irregularities in the re-allotment of the plot.
Interestingly, the attachment by the Enforcement Directorate has come on 3rd December with the next hearing in National Herald case scheduled for 4th of December that is today.
Reacting to the development, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy congratulated ED and also said that his target is Bandra plot allotted to AJL.
Congrats ED for attaching Panchkula NH land. These are in the names of Buddhu and Bottle? Now onward to Bandra plot
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) December 3, 2018
Subramanian Swamy has for long been trying everything to make sure that Congress gets no room to escape from the case. The decision to come sooner or later might only exacerbate things for the Congress.
The National Herald case pertains to corruption charges against Congress’ top brass, especially Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Both are alleged to have minted millions from an ailing news agency called National Herald. National Herald had become defunct by 2008. According to the court proceedings, as made public, the accused are allegedly charged under the provisions of Indian Penal Code pertaining to misappropriation of property, criminal breach of trust, cheating and criminal conspiracy.
The following people are accused of the offence, as petitioned by Dr. Subramanian Swamy :
Sonia Gandhi, Ex NAC Chairperson and MP from Rae Bareli.
Rahul Gandhi, current President of Congress Party and MP from Amethi.
Motilal Vora, ex AICC treasurer.
Oscar Fernandes, ex-Youth Affairs and Sports Minister and AICC General Secretary.
Sam Pitroda, ex-Chairman of National Knowledge Commission and ex-advisor to the Prime Minister.
The officials of Young Indian magazine.
If the High court decides to give its final decision prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the National Herald case might turn out to be a major headache for the Congress. It has already been a touchy topic for the Congress leaders and especially, the Nehru-Gandhi family. A decision which is unlikely to go in their favour, coupled with a timing which is before the 2019 elections, will only damage the reputation of the Congress.