Judicial inquiry in Haryana land deals submits report

Judicial inquiry in Haryana land deals submits report

Judicial inquiry in Haryana land deals submits report

A judicial inquiry into the controversial land deals in Haryana allegedly involving Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra today submitted its report to the state government, apparently finding irregularities in the deals.

Justice S N Dhingra, a former judge of Delhi High Court, presented a 182-page report to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, 15 months after he was appointed to probe land deals in Gurgaon during the tenure of the then chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

While refusing to give details of the contents of the report, Justice Dhingra indicated that he clearly found irregularities in the grant of land licenses in the area. The land deals became a major issue in 2014 during the Lok Sabha elections and Assembly polls in Haryana.

Asked by newsmen whether the commission found any irregularity, Justice Dhingra said, "Had there been no irregularity I would have given one sentence report mentioning there is no irregularity. My report has 182 pages. Without it (irregularity), I did not have any reason to write 182 pages."

To a query about the companies involved in the irregularities, he said, "I do not know about which particular company you (media) are talking. My mandate was to inquire about irregularity in grant of licenses."

The Khattar government had on May 14, 2015 set up the one-man Commission to probe issues concerning the grant of license(s) for developing commercial colonies by the Department of Town and Country Planning to some entities in Sector 83, Gurgaon including mutation of land deal between a firm M/S Skylight Hospitality owned by Robert Vadra and realty major DLF.

Justice Dhingra said that it is for the government to act on the report, including making it public after laying it in the state assembly.

"I cannot disclose the contents of the report. It is the property of the state government which is to decide the timing of making public the report," he added. The Commission had been given three extensions so far.

Asked whether any government official or private persons were involved in irregularity, Justice Dhingra said, "I have probed irregularity in grant of licenses and the manner in which these irregularities were committed and the persons who were benefitted from it.

"Rest, indictment, is for the state to proceed against whatever it considers against whom it is to proceed and against whom it is not to proceed. That is the state's prerogative.

"I have named each and every person who is responsible whether private or government. Any person who was involved in irregularity has been mentioned (in the report) and role has also been mentioned.  Beyond that I would not tell you who were they and what was the role," he further said.

Justice Dhingra said his report was in two parts which contained findings and evidence.

"The report has two volumes. One is findings and second part has evidence of findings. The third part has some documents which I received on June 30 which needed to be investigated and I have mentioned for its investigation in the report," he said.

"This report is about all the subjects which were handed over to me and handled all the issues in my report in detail and whatever evidence I have got from files, I have mentioned in it."

However, he declined to share details of the findings of his report, saying it is up to the government to make it public. "If the government wants to make it public then you (media) will get it," he said.

"I cannot talk about contents of the report as it is legally government's property. Till it takes any decision after going through it or make it public I cannot say on it," he said.

Asked whether this report could be challenged, Justice Dhingra said, "if you know the law of this country any order which is perfectly legal can also be challenged.

"Is there any bar on challenging perfectly legal orders? If you do not know a perfectly legal order of the lowest court can be challenged right up to the Supreme Court even it is upheld in SC."

On action against how many people mentioned in the report, Justice Dhingra said, "I have told Mr Khattar what I told you that here is my report.  The first part is the findings and second part is annexure and third part is documents which you need to investigate."

To a further query, he said, "CAG report if you have read it I will say CAG report was for small aspect. This is a detailed report which covered all the aspects."

Asked whether senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka was called, Justice Dhingra said, "If I had to call Khemka, I would have called him. I did not require him. Whosoever was required, I called him."

Asked about Congress allegations that the report was made public deliberately and that he had taken benefits from Haryana government, Justice Dhingra said, "you (media) can run those allegations...what can I say."

The Dhingra Commission had been given three extensions.

On June 30, the BJP government had extended the term of the Dhingra Commission for the third time by two months till August 31, 2016 after he had sought six weeks more time to submit its report to go through some documents from a person stating "that they are documents of benami transactions of who benefitted from the grant of license."

The Rs 58-crore deal related to 3.5 acre land in Gurgaon's Shikohpur village which was sold by Vadra to DLF.

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 the Vadra land deal under the scanner.

Thereafter, on August 28 last year, the Commission's scope was extended to four villages which included Shikhopur, Sihi, Kheri Daula and Sikanderpur Badha bringing Gurgaon's sector 78 to 86 under its ambit.

In October, 2012, senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka had cancelled the mutation of the land deal between Skylight Hospitality and DLF on the ground that assistant consolidation officer who had sanctioned the change of title, was not competent to do so. It was also mired by controversy over allegations of undervaluation.

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

Justice Dhingra Commission had examined about 250 files related to the grant of commercial licenses, besides examining several government officials.

Congress had, earlier, attacked Justice Dhingra, alleging, "he sought favors from government of Haryana, making him incompetent and unsuitable to deliver any verdict or report in the matter."

Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had also sought scrapping the Dhingra 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". 

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