In what comes as a massive jolt to Haryana’s previous Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government in the Rs 1500 crore land acquisition fraud, the Supreme Court restored the scrapped acquisition of 688 acres of land in Gurgaon and asked the CBI to get to the bottom of the matter.
The SC decision to revive the acquisition will put those unscrupulous builders in the dock, who benefited a lot with the help of government functionaries in carrying out corrupt land holding deals.
The case involved the state industries department issuing a notification about the government’s decision to acquire land in Gurgaon, triggering distress sale to builders who promptly stepped in to offer rates higher than what the farmers would have got as compensation.
Shortly afterwards, however, the notification was withdrawn, leaving the builders to amass a fortune. The CBI has already chargesheeted Hooda in the case, and the SC order will strengthen the charge of wrongdoing.
On August 27, 2004, the state industries department notified its decision to acquire land in Manesar, Lakhounla and Naurangpur in Gurgaon district to set up Chaudhari Devi Lal Industrial Township. Using this ‘smoke screen’, builders coerced land owners to sell 400 acres at a throwaway price of Rs 100 crore against a market price of Rs 1,600 crore.
Three years later, when the land had been taken over by builders, the Hooda government suddenly dropped acquisition proceedings to allow realtors to become owners of vast tracts of land to execute profitable housing and other projects. The SC quoted the CBI’s report, which said, “Some politicians who were also important functionaries of state government, government officers and their agents caused a wrongful loss of Rs 1,500 crore to land owners of Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhounla and corresponding gains to themselves.”
Finding ‘middlemen’ getting a windfall from the fraud, a bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit said, “The CBI may do well to unravel the truth. In any case, such hefty sums which were made over to ‘middlemen’ cannot be said to be rightfully earned by and belonging to them... In our view, this money rightfully belongs to the state and none other.
We direct the authorities of the state as well as the central government to reach the depths of such transactions and recover every single pie and make it over to the state government. A complete investigation in the transactions, including unearthing unnatural gains received by ‘middlemen’, shall be undertaken by the CBI.”