New Delhi: The Punjab and Haryana High Court pulled up the Hooda government on Monday for flouting land laws in order to aid the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust in Gurgaon's Ulawas village. It is being reported that the site for the Indira Gandhi Eye Hospital and Research Centre in Gurgaon's Ulawas village, to be set up by the Trust, was granted eight acres of land in violation of the land acquisition laws.
The land owners, including artiste Anjolie Ela Menon, had approached the court against the land deal saying that the 'Gandhi's as trustees' tag helped with the Trust acquire the land.
Chetan Mittal, who is the counsel for petitioners, said, "there is no provision of releasing any vacant land. Here the government has not gone against the policy but they have tried to straight away favour the Trust."
The Haryana Government, according to petitions in the court, alleged that the rules were bent to help the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and a few others. Fearing political fire and embarrassment to the Gandhi's, the Congress government in Haryana offered to clean up the mess caused but the High Court wanted to get all the facts in place and observe them.
"When you are caught red handed, you are trying to escape... We cannot tolerate what you are doing with the common man," The high court told the state government.
"This has to be stopped. We are shocked at the sad state of affairs. Be rational and be fair to everybody," the high court added.
When contacted by CNN-IBN, the Haryana government refused to give any official reaction.
"No comments. the matter is in the court... Tomorrow... Tomorrow... No comments," is what HS Hooda, attorney for the state government, said.
Villagers in Ullawas say that they were also told there was pressure from influential people.
One of the villagers, Dharamveer, said, "there was no meeting between the panchayat, the gram sabha and the sarpanch... The District Commissioner told them there was pressure from the government and that they had to sign the deal."
Another villager Satinder said that they were pressurised to sign the deal and that they would be sent to jail if they refused.
"They put pressure on us.. They told us that we would go to jail... We were ready, after all, how else would we sustain ourselves?" Satinder said.
The Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust has reacted to the CNN-IBN reports saying that they followed all procedures in acquiring the land for the eye hospital.
Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust CEO Dr YSP Thorat said, "The Trust corresponded directly with the Gram Panchayat and was leased by the Gram Panchayat for 33 years through due process, without any concessions and according to the provisions of the law. The Trust's lease with the Gram Panchayat stipulates that the land shall be used only for the purposes of an eye hospital; that there shall be no further sub-lease or transfer; that the eye hospital shall run on a no profit-no loss basis."