In a huge embarrassment to the ruling Congress, Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka has cancelled the mutation of the 3.531-acre plot at Shikohpur village near Manesar in Gurgaon that Robert Vadra, businessman and son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, sold to DLF Universal for Rs 58 crore.
Khemka, who was director general, consolidation of holdings and land records-cum-inspector general of registration, set aside the mutation of the prime piece of land before relinquishing charge of office. The 1991-batch IAS officer was transferred from the department on the orders of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on October 11, 2012, hours after he started looking into Vadra's land deals in the state.
However, Khemka completed the probe and set aside the mutation on October 15 before relinquishing the charge to join his new assignment as managing director of a small public sector undertaking, Haryana Seeds Development Corporation, where the government has posted him. The mutation was set aside on the grounds that the assistant consolidation officer, who had sanctioned it, was not competent to do so.
Before cancelling the mutation, Khemka also directed deputy commissioners-cum-registrars of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Mewat districts in the National Capital Region to look into all properties registered by Vadra or his companies from January 1, 2005, as vendor or vendee for alleged under-valuation and submit a report by October 25, 2012. The order dated October 12 (copy available with Hindustan Times), has specifically named Sky Light Realty, Sky Light Hospitality, Real Earth Estates, Blue Breeze Trading, Artex and North India IT Parks as some of Vadra's companies.
It also mentioned that allegations have been levelled by India Against Corruption and Leader of Opposition in the Haryana Assembly (Om Prakash Chautala) regarding under-valuation of land deals. Hindustan Times was the first to report Khemka's strong protest to chief secretary PK Chaudhery against his abrupt transfer - the third in the past five months - for "exposing scams and corrupt acts".
While cancelling the mutation, the IAS officer, in his order, mentioned that the village of Shikohpur was notified under 14(1) of the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act, 1948, on August 5, 2011, and transfer of property during the pendency of consolidation proceedings without the sanction of the consolidation officer was prohibited.
"All property under consolidation vests with the government till repartition. The department's permission to sell the property on April 3, 2012, falls foul of section 30 of the Consolidation Act. The action of the sub-registrar, Manesar, to register the property on September 18, 2012, was also not proper. The mutation was sanctioned without jurisdiction on September 20, 2012, to give effect to the sale deed by assistant consolidation officer, Gurgaon, who is not a revenue officer. Only a revenue officer, as defined in the Punjab Land Revenue Act, is competent to sanction mutations," the inquiry report reads.
Khemka has also raised questions about the nature of this transaction between Vadra and DLF. Sky Light Hospitality purchased 3.53 acres (khasra no. 730) in Shikohpur district on February 12, 2008, for Rs 7.5 crore and the mutation was done in its favour the next day. On March 28, 2008, the town and country planning department issued the company LOI/licence to develop a housing colony over 2.701 acres and it was later renewed on January 18, 2011, according to the inquiry report.
While the sale deed of this land to DLF for Rs 58 crore was registered on September 18, 2012, the inquiry report points out that Sky Light Hospitality had "ex-facie entered into a sale agreement with DLF on or before June 3, 2008 when part payment of the total sale consideration was received". Sky Light had received Rs 50 crore out of the total sale consideration of Rs 58 crore by October 7, 2009.
"It is not known what made the town and country planning department to renew the LOI/licence on January 18, 2011, in favour of Sky Light Hospitality when 86.2% of the total sales consideration was paid to him 15 months before the date of renewal of LOI/licence. If the company suppressed the fact that it had entered into a sale agreement of the property with DLF Universal before the renewal of the licence, then the department ought to be taking action against it for suppressing the fact. On the contrary, had the vendor informed the town and country planning department about entering into an agreement to sell the land to DLF on or before June 3, 2008, it is unfathomable how the department could renew the licence in January 2011," the report reads.
No favour shown to anyone: Hooda
Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that his government had not shown favour to anyone and total transparency was maintained. "An inquiry will be conducted by the chief secretary to see whether the officer's allegations are true or not. If any official has done something wrong, we will take action. In case Ashok Khemka has misrepresented facts, there will be action against him," he told reporters. On the officer's abrupt transfer from the land holdings department, he said that it was the prerogative of the government and transfer of an officer was no punishment.
February 12, 2008: Vadra's Sky Light Hospitality purchases 3.53 acres for Rs 7.5 crore in Shikohpur village near Manesar and mutation of land was done the next day.
March 28, 2008: Town and country planning department issues the company LOI/licence to develop a housing colony over 2.701 acres
June 3, 2008: Sky Light Hospitality "ex-facie" entered into a sale agreement with DLF on or before this day when it received part payment (Rs 5 crore) of the total sale consideration
March 27, 2009: Rs 10 crore paid by DLF vide cheque no. 350411 drawn on ICICI Bank Ltd
October 7, 2009: Rs 35 crore paid by DLF vide cheque no. 457201 drawn on ICICI Bank Ltd
January 18, 2011: T&CP department renewed license in favor of Sky Light Hospitality when 86.2% of total sales consideration had already been paid to the firm
July 25, 2012: Rs 8 crore paid by DLF vide DD/PO no. 283439 drawn on ICICI Bank Ltd
September 18, 2012: Sale deed of land to DLF for Rs 58 crore registered
September 20, 2012: Mutation of the sale deed done by assistant consolidation officer
October 10, 2012: Khemka starts looking into the land transactions of Vadra's firms following allegations made by IAC
October 11, 2012: Haryana government transfers Khemka
October 12, 2012: Khemka orders DCs of four districts to look into all land deals of Vadra and his companies
October 15, 2012: IAS officer cancels mutation of land deal before relinquishing charge