Did Devyani lie in her assets affidavit to Centre?

  • Saikat Datta and Shailesh Gaikwad, Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 22, 2013 09:27 IST
People-protest-against-the-arrest-of-Devyani-Khobragade-an-Indian-consular-officer-in-New-York-outside-the-US-consulate-in-Hyderabad

India’s deputy consul general Devyani Khobragade, in the middle of a diplomatic row between India and the United States, could face dismissal from service and a possible income tax probe for misleading authorities on the price of her apartment in the controversial Adarsh Housing Society, Mumbai.

Khobragade filed an affidavit with the central government on February 28 this year stating that she owns a 1000-sq ft apartment in Adarsh Society, Mumbai. She states that she purchased it for Rs 90 lakh with the money coming from the sale of another apartment in Mumbai’s Oshiwara locality.

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But as the judicial committee inquiring into the Adarsh Housing scam points out, she paid Rs 1.1 crore for the apartment in 2005. So how did the Rs 20 lakh-discrepancy show up between the price declared by her to the central government and the findings of the judicial committee? Her father, Uttam Khobragade, who is a retired IAS officer, did not take calls from HT and did not reply to a specific message sent to him regarding this discrepancy.

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“Such a discrepancy can lead to a possible case for dismissal from service because she seems to have suppressed the real purchase value of the Adarsh apartment,” a senior foreign ministry official told HT on the condition of anonymity since he is not authorised to speak to the media.

The judicial commission report on the Adarsh Housing scam submitted to the Maharashtra assembly on Friday clearly records that she paid Rs 1.1 crore for the apartment. It also states that when the inquiry commission questioned her and her father, they refused to divulge the amount she had paid for the apartment. However, this amount was found in a “ledger account” maintained by Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society.

The inquiry committee stated that “it appears” she did not take a loan to purchase this apartment. In her affidavit to the central government Khobragade has stated that she sold off a flat in Oshiwara to pay for the Adarsh apartment. However, she has not mentioned the sale price of the Oshiwara apartment, raising questions about the source of her funds for the Adarsh apartment.

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