IAS officer probing Vadra deal transferred

IAS officer probing Vadra deal transferred

A senior Haryana IAS officer is at the Centre of a raging controversy after he was transferred in the wake of his decision to probe alleged undervaluation of properties dealt with by Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Significantly, on the last day of his posting as Director General of Land Consolidation and Land Records-cum- Inspector-General of Registration yesterday, he also issued an order cancelling the mutation of over 3 acre plot of land in Manesar-Shikohpur that Vadra had sold to DLF.

Khemka, a 1991-batch officer, today attacked the decision to transfer him, saying it was "demoralising and dehumanising".

"If these problems are brought in sunshine, probably my decisions would appear to be normal and correct. But what happens is, inside, you are guided and directed that behave differently.

"If you do take an action which you call strong but I would call as correct, and then action is taken against you, it's very demoralising, dehumanising and you feel ashamed of yourself that look, there must be something wrong with you that these things are happening.

"You get words like 'you don't get along well with others, 'there are shades of grey in life' etc. These kinds of euphemism are created to deviate you from the correct path," he said pleading for security as he feels "threat" from "vested elements" whom he has been exposing from time to time.

In his October 12 letter, a day after his transfer orders were issued, addressed to the Deputy Commissioners-cum-Registrar, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Mewat districts, Khemka's letter reads "inquiry regarding under valuation of some properties registered by Robert Vadra or his companies as vendor or vendee".

In the letter, Khemka wrote "As per the records of one property, M/s Sky Light hospitality had purchased Khasra No 730 (3.53 acres) of village Shikhopur, district Gurgaon vide sale deed number 4928 dated February 12, 2008 for Rs 7.5 crore.

"This property was re-sold to M/s DLF Universal for Rs 58 crore vide sale deed number 1435 dated September 18, 2012 after obtaining LOI/licence from the Director, Town and Country Planning, Haryana on March 28, 2003, subsequently renewed on January 18, 2011 for 2.701 acres," he alleged in the letter.

Khemka cancelled the mutation of over 3 acre plot that Vadra’s company, M/s Sky Light Hospitality, had allegedly sold to DLF Universal Ltd last month on the grounds that the mutation violated the States Consolidation Act and was done not by a revenue officer but by the Assistant Consolidation Officer of Gurgaon unauthorisedly.

Khemka, who was also the Inspector General of Registration, formally ordered an inquiry across four districts into the alleged under-valuation of some properties registered by Vadra or his companies as vendor or vendee.

The IAS officer further mentions that village Shikhopur of district Gurgaon was re-notified under the provisions of East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act, 1948 on August 5, 2011.

"The sale of property on September 18, 2012 during the pendency of the consolidation proceedings without sanction of the Consolidation Officer was against provisions of Section 30 of the Consolidation Act. The mutation number 4513 sanctioned on September 20 this year by the Assistant Consolidation Officer was also without jurisdiction, since he is not a Revenue Officer under the Punjab Land Revenue Act," he stated.

Noting that "under-valuation" of property leads to loss of revenue, Khemka said that in view of questions raised in reputed national dailies and to clear the name of Registering Offices in Haryana, he considers "it fit and appropriate to order DCs-cum-Registrars of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Mewat shall inspect all documents registered from January 1, 2005 and till date by or on behalf of Vadra or his firms in the capacity of either vendor or vendee and compile such list for examination.

"They (DCs) shall estimate the real value of the property conveyed through registered documents and in case of under-valuations, the matter shall be referred to Collector under Section 47-A of the Indian Stamps Act for correct assessment of the stamp duty payable," Khemka said.

While mentioning the name of a reputed national daily, Khemka in his letter further directed the DCs that the report must reach the office of Inspector General of Registration, Haryana by October 25 this year.

Quoting the daily, he mentioned the names of some companies of Vadra as "Sky Light Realty, Sky Light Hospitality, Real Earth Estates, Blue Breeze Trading, Artex and North India IT Parks".

In his letter yesterday to Director General, Town and Country Planning Department and Deputy Commissioner-cum- Registrar-cum Assistant Director, Consolidation, Gurgaon, Khemka advised the former not to accord permission or issue Letter of Intent/licence or Change of Land Use "in violation" of Consolidation Act or Land Ceiling Act "at least in future".

He mentions that with reference to registered sale deed of September 18 of village Shikhopur, Sector 83, Gurgaon, for sale of 3.531 acres against total consideration of Rs 58 crore by vendor, M/s Sky Light Hospitality Private Limited, to vendee, M/s DLF Universal Ltd, of which part area of 2.701 acres is issued LOI/license dated March 28, 2008 and subsequently renewed on January 18, 2011 by Town and Country Planning Department, Sky Light Hospitality had allegedly received Rs 50 crore out of total sale consideration of Rs 58 crore by October 7, 2010 as per the registered sale deed.

"The vendor had ex-facie entered into a sale agreement with the vendee or on before June 3, 2008, when part payment of the total sale consideration was received. It is not known what made the Town and Country Planning Department to renew the LOI/licence on January 18, 2011 in favour of the vendor, when 86.2 per cent of the total sales consideration was paid to him by October 10, 2009, that is 15 months before the date of renewal of the LOI/licence.

"If the vendor suppressed the material fact that he had entered into a sale agreement of the impugned property with M/s DLF Universal, against which he was paid 86.2 per cent of the total sales consideration 15 months before the renewal of the LOI/licence, then the Department ought to be taking action against vendor for suppressing the material fact," Khemka's letter said.

"On the contrary, had the vendor informed the Department about his entering into an agreement to sell on or before June 3, 2008 with M/s DLF Universal, it is unfathomable how the Department could renew the LOI/licence on January 18, 2011 in favour of the vendor who had ex-facie entered into an agreement to sell within 65 days of the issue of first LOI/license," Khemka wrote.

He further said in the letter that action of the Sub-Registrar, Manesar to register the property on September 18 this year when the estate of Shikhopur was under consolidation was also not proper.

"A mutation number 4513 was sanctioned without jurisdiction on September 20, 2012 to give effect to the sale deed no 1435 dated September 18, 2012 by Assistant Consolidation Officer, Gurgaon, who is not a revenue officer...I hereby set aside the mutation ... on the ground that the Assistant Consolidation Officer who had sanctioned the mutation was not competent to do so," he said.

Talking to reporters here today, Khemka alleged that there was a nexus between politicians and officers and "insider trading" was happening "under which gullible land owner is made to part with his land by paying peanuts".

"I also want amendment in the Prevention of Corruption Act so that government officials found guilty of insider trading are punished," he said, adding that he had been trying for an amendment to prevent panchayat or village Shamlat land (common land) being sold by circumventing and manipulating rules.

Khemka said that before being shunted out from the department, he was also trying to have entire land records made online by November to bring about more transparency.
Asked if he was under any kind of pressure from politicians or senior bureaucrats, he said, "They know what type of person I am and I don't accept any pressure. There has been no pressure, at the most I have been frequently transferred".

After his transfer, 43rd in his career so far, the senior Haryana IAS officer had charged the state government with "abruptly" transferring him and had even shot a letter to State Chief Secretary P K Chaudhery.

In his letter to Chaudhery a day after his transfer, Khemka had pointed out that there should be a minimum tenure of two years as per the statutory IAS (Fixation of Cadre Strength) Regulations 2010, "but the state government has violated statutory regulations".

Chaudhery had maintained that the IAS officer's contention that his transfer was a punishment was not correct.

In his letter, Khemka had said that acting as a whistle-blower on "several dubious" land
transactions has come as a "punishment" for him.

"It is shocking to learn about my abrupt transfer...this is deliberate and malafide to punish me due to some vested elements in the political-bureaucratic hierarchy affected by the expose of the scams in consolidation of land holdings under the exercise of powers," he wrote in his letter.

During his 50-day stint in the department, Khemka had detected irregularities in land transactions involving transfer of panchayat land worth several hundred crores of rupees to newly created real estate companies.

Khemka, who is known in bureaucratic circles as an upright and honest officer, had in 2004 refused to obey the orders of the then state government headed by Om Prakash Chautala with respect to transfer of teachers mid-session.

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