PMLA court grants bail to Hooda, Vora in AJL plot allotment case

Pallavi Singhal
Bhupinder Singh Hooda

A SPECIAL PMLA court in Panchkula granted bail to former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and senior Congress leader Motilal Vora in a money laundering case related to the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) land allotment on Wednesday.

On November 30, the trial court had granted interim bail to them. During the resumed hearing on Wednesday, the ED filed a reply to the bail pleas opposing the bail applications and also heard the counsels representing Hooda and Vora. Following the submissions, the court granted the pre-arrest bail to the accused.

The counsel representing Hooda and Vora contended that they have cooperated with the investigating agency since the beginning and the case predominantly rests on documentary evidence which is in possession of the investigating agency. The advanced age of the accused was also cited as a ground for bail.

The money laundering case pertains to the alleged irregularities in the re-allotment of a plot, located in Panchkula, to AJL by the then Hooda government. The ED in August filed the prosecution complaint against Hooda, Vora and the AJL under the PMLA. The ED in a statement had said the AJL, Vora and Hooda “were directly involved in the process or activity connected with acquisition, possession or projection of Proceeds of Crime ie Plot No.C-17,Sector 6, Panchkula to the tune of Rs 64.9 crores”.

According to the ED, the property in question had been allotted to AJL in the year 1982, but the same was resumed back by the Estate Officer, HUDA in 1992 as the AJL did not allegedly comply with the conditions of allotment letter resulting into the resumption order attaining finality after dismissal of the Revision Petition in 1996.

“However, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the then CM, Haryana/Chairman HUDA, blatantly misused his official position and dishonestly allotted the said plot afresh in the guise of re-allotment to the AJL at original rates plus interest in violation of necessary conditions/ policy of HUDA vide order dated 28.08.2005,” as per the ED.