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10 takeaways from Robert Vadra's dubious land deals

Congress alleged Justice Dhingra probing the matter had sought favours from government of Haryana, making him incompetent

 |  4-minute read |   01-07-2016
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Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra is in the news again, of course for all the controversial reasons.

On this occasion, the Justice SN Dhingra Commission, which was set up to interrogate into dubious land deals of some companies including that of Vadra in Gurgaon during Bhupinder Singh Hooda's government in Haryana, has sought six weeks' additional time to submit its report, hours before the deadline was to end on June 30.

Justice Dhingra sought more time to go through some documents from a person stating "that they are documents of benami transactions of who benefited from the grant of licence".

The commission's term was extended twice by the BJP government in Haryana - in December 2015, it was extended for a period of six months and on June 17, till June 30.

Also read: Why Modi sarkar has no right to accuse Vadra till they book him

These are some of the facts related to the Vadra-DLF dubious land deals:

1. It deals with allegations of mutation of a land deal between a firm Skylight Hospitality owned by Vadra and realty major DLF. The Rs 58-crore deal was related to 3.5 acre land in Gurgaon's Shikohpur village which was sold by Vadra to DLF.

2. In October, 2012, when the Congress was still in power in Haryana, senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka cancelled the mutation of the land deal between Skylight Hospitality and DLF. It was mired in controversy over allegations of undervaluation.

3. The BJP government in Haryana under Manohar Lal Khattar had on May 14, 2015 set up the Dhingra Commission to probe issues concerning the grant of licence(s) for developing commercial colonies by the department of town and country planning to some entities in sector 83, Gurgaon.

4. The commission was to probe transfer or disposal of land, allegations of private enrichment, ineligibility of beneficiaries under the rules, and other connected matters, bringing Vadra land deal under the scanner.

justicedhingra010716_070116051350.jpg Justice SN Dhingra is under fire from the Congress in the tit-for-tat political game.

5. The commission summoned Hooda but he was represented by his counsel on the two dates. He has sought scrapping the commission of inquiry, pointing out that it was "contrary to established rules and norms, without due cabinet approval and prompted by malice and political considerations".

6. The commission summoned 26 government officers as witnesses and examined at least 250 files pertaining to approval, grant or rejection of colony licences to various builders, and change of land use and development plans.

7. The BJP had made the land deals under the previous Congress government in Haryana a major issue during the 2014 Lok Sabha and the state Assembly polls, alleging rules were relaxed to favour a few including Vadra.

Prime Minister Modi had harped on these alleged corruption cases during the campaign. The BJP had released a CD and booklet "Damad Shree" to attack the Nehru-Gandhi family. Union water resources minister Uma Bharati had gone to the extent of declaring that Vadra was involved in "several falsehoods" and after the election if BJP comes to power, he would surely be jailed.

8. The request for extension has come in the midst of a row after Congress alleged that Justice Dhingra "has sought favours from government of Haryana, making him incompetent and unsuitable to deliver any verdict or report in the matter".

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed that Justice Dhingra, who is also chairman of Delhi-based Justice Gopal Singh Public Charitable Trust, moved an application on December 8, 2015 to the Gurgaon deputy commissioner asking that a particular individual in Gurgaon has gifted him land for construction of a school and that money should now be utlilised out of the public exchequer, for construction of a road and also electricity poles. The HRDF (Haryana Rural Development Fund) Board, headed by the chief minister sanctioned Rs 97 lakh out of which road is being constructed, Surjewala alleged.

9. Vadra dismissed allegations of fraudulent land deals against him, saying they were false and that he will "always be used for political gains".

"Almost a decade of government's false and baseless accusations on me! They cannot prove anything without proof (sic), and there is nothing there to prove... I will always be used for political gains, I know... But I will walk with my head held high, as in time and with the truth which will conquer incorrect perceptions that are created about me," Priyanka Vadra's husband said in a Facebook post.

10. Haryana's health minister Anil Vij hit out at Hooda's criticism of the Dhingra Commission, saying "undue favours" to builders by the previous Congress regime had come under attack even from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

Vadra has recently been issued a notice by the enforcement directorate (ED) for his alleged involvement in a land scam in Bikaner, Rajasthan, too.

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