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Ashok Khemka's comments sought on probe into Vadra-DLF deal strike-down

Hitender Rao, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, March 15, 2013
First Published: 23:18 IST(15/3/2013) | Last Updated: 23:41 IST(15/3/2013)

The Haryana government has sought comments from IAS officer Ashok Khemka on the inquiry report by a committee that is probing his orders for cancellation of mutation of 3.53 acres in Gurgaon's Shikohpur village. The mutation of revenue record was for land sold by Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra to real estate giant DLF Universal Limited.

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The committee had termed the orders to cancel the mutation as "inappropriate and without jurisdiction". It was also learnt that the committee held Khemka's order to be against the provisions of the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act and the Punjab Land Revenue Act. It noted that though over 100 mutations had been sanctioned by the assistant consolidation officer (ACO) in Shikohpur since 2011, the cancellation was ordered by Khemka only for the 3.53 acres.

It was in October 2012 that Khemka, during his tenure as director general, consolidation of landholdings (DGCH), had set aside the mutation of September 2012 on the grounds that the ACO was not authorised to sanction the mutation.

But the committee held that for doubts regarding the ACO's powers, the matter should have been referred to the law secretary, as it was not a one-off case. Khemka's October 15 orders were also learnt to have been declared administratively inappropriate as his transfer from the DGC's post had already been ordered on the night of October 11.

Chief secretary PK Chaudhery, when asked if Khemka had been given a copy of the inquiry report, said, "Comments have been sought from him on the report."

Khemka has been asked to send his comments to the additional chief secretary, revenue, who heads the probe committee.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Khemka has also sought information and documents on properties purchased by Vadra or any of his companies in the state. Sources said he has also asked whether Vadra or DLF made any representation or complaint regarding his orders of cancelling the mutation of Shikohpur land.

In his order to cancel the mutation, Khemka had asked the deputy commissioners (DCs) of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Mewat to look for any under-valuation of property registered by Vadra or his companies. The DCs, however, told the government that there was no under-valuation.

Committee on Khemka's orders against deal
1.
Government only issued notification under section 14 (1) of the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act, thus declaring the intent of making a scheme for consolidation of holdings; the actual consolidation process never commenced.

2.
Between 1990 and 2012, about 1,400 buy-sell transactions took place in Shikohpur that were recorded by the consolidation patwari and approved by his supervisor, the ACO. Though the government didn't issue a notification to authorise the ACO to sanction mutations, no one except the consolidation patwari and ACO could have updated-sanctioned the records, since they were custodians of revenue records all this while.

3.
For a dispute on mutation, appeal under the Land Revenue Act lay with the collector, commissioner and financial commissioner. Khemka's order as DGCH was beyond his powers.

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