Bhupinder Singh Hooda talking to Ambani
Bhupinder Singh Hooda talking to AmbaniReuters

The Enforcement Directorate has booked former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, a few officials of the Associated Journal Limited and publisher of the National Herald newspaper on charges of money laundering.

Hooda and four other officials of Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) have been accused of corruption by a Haryana State Vigilance Bureau FIR that claims that they allegedly re-allocated a plot to the Journal in Panchkula in 2005.

The Directorate registered a case under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after taking cognizance of the Haryana State Vigilance Bureau FIR filed on May 5 this year.

The vigilance case covers various criminal sections including criminal breach of trust by a public servant, cheating and criminal conspiracy.

The Vigilance Bureau claims that by reallocating the plot to AJL instead of selling it through auction, Hooda who was at the time chairman of HUDA and other HUDA officials caused a huge financial loss to the development authority.

Initially allotted to AJL in 1982, the plot's possession was taken over by Haryana Vikas Party government chief Bansi Lal after the plot's lease expired in 1996. However it was re-allotted to AJL after the Congress leader came to power in 2005.

Alleging irregularities in allotment of industrial plots in Panchkula three years ago, another similar but separate FIR was lodged in December last year.

Opposition parties had written to Harayana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and sough action from his BJP led government. Leader of the Opposition Abhay Chautala said soon after Congress was voted to power, a plot measuring 3,360 square metres in the prime location of Sector 6, in Panchkula was reallotted to the Associated Journal Ltd through a representation made on its behalf by one of the trustees.

Hooda termed the action as "political vendetta" and said that no rules had been violated in the allotment. Summons will be issued soon to the accused named in the ED FIR.