Justice SN Dhingra Commission of Inquiry to probe Vadra land deal

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: May 14, 2015 23:48 IST

The BJP government in Haryana on Thursday set up a one-man Commission of Inquiry (CoI) headed by retired Delhi high court judge SN Dhingra to probe the issues concerning the grant of commercial license to M/s Sky Light Hospitality, the company owned by Robert Vadra, the businessman son in law of Congress president, Sonia Gandhi.

The town and country planning department had in 2008 granted a commercial license to Vadra's company for 2.70 acre in Sector 83 (Shikohpur), Gurgaon. The Commission will submit its report to the state government as soon as possible but not later than six months from the date of its first sitting.

An official spokesperson said CoI would probe the issues concerning the grant of licenses for developing commercial colonies by the department of town and country planning, Haryana, to some entities in Sector 83, Gurgaon. This implies that several other entities which were granted commercial licenses in Sector 83 will also be investigated besides M/s Sky Light Hospitality.

The spokesperson said the Commission would probe the subsequent transfer or disposal of licenses, allegations of private enrichment, ineligibility of beneficiaries under the rules, and other connected matters. Issues concerning public importance related to the grant of licenses and alleged illegalities have come to the notice of the state government.

Scope of probe

The terms of reference of the inquiry include circumstances under which licenses for development of commercial colonies were granted to some entities in sector 83, Gurgaon; whether the said entities were eligible for grant of licenses as per applicable laws, rules, circulars, notifications, guidelines etc; whether the transfer of licenses by the original licensee within a short period of time to other entities was violative of law, rules, circulars, notifications and/or guidelines etc.; and whether the town and country planning department had contemplated the transactions that had taken place before or after the grant of license, particularly with reference to the loss of revenue to the government.

The Commission will also recommend measures which may be adopted to meet the ends of justice, particularly with a view to take corrective action to prevent loss of revenue to the public exchequer and also prevention of undue private enrichment at the cost of the public exchequer in such cases in the future; consider such other matters, including, complaints given by different individuals, magazines, political parties and also the Comptroller and Auditor General reports etc. on the subject; give findings and recommendations to meet the ends of justice, particularly relating to allegations of criminal conspiracy, criminal misconduct and undue private enrichment, if any and the role of public servants and private individuals therein; and recommend remedial measures, for systemic improvement, with a view to prevent loss of revenue to the public exchequer and undue private enrichment in future.

The inquiry by the Commission shall be in regard to complaints or allegations that may be made before the Commission by any individual, group of individuals, entity or association in such form, as may be specified by the Commission.

Khemka vs Vadra

While Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka in capacity as director general, Consolidation of Holdings had cancelled the mutation of 3.5 acres in Gurgaon’s Shikohpur, the land that was sold by Vadra to realty giant DLF, a committee constituted by the then Congress government had in its report termed Khemka’s orders as inappropriate and without jurisdiction. The Committee had also held Khemka’s order to be against the provisions of the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act and Punjab Land Revenue Act.

Khemka was also chargesheeted by the Congress government for major penalty under Rule 8 of the All-India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules. Primarily, he was held liable for administrative misconduct for overstepping jurisdiction in passing orders to cancel the mutation of 3.5 acre in Gurgaon’s Shikohpur village and indulging in public criticism of the actions and policies of the state government.

Interestingly, action taken by Khemka as director general, Consolidation of Holdings will not be probed by the Commission of Inquiry. This provides ample leeway to the present government not to drop Khemka's chargesheet or put the disciplinary proceedings on hold till the probe gets over.

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