Uddar Gagan land release probe: ‘Political equations involving Haryana MP Subhash Chandra behind somersault’
The alleged political overtones in the decision of the BJP government in Haryana to appoint a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana high court to inquire into the release of under-acquisition Rohtak land and grant of colonisation licence on 280 acres to a private builder under the previous Congress regime has provided sufficient ammunition to the opposition.
Quashing the land released from acquisition and transferring developer’s licences to HUDA, the Supreme Court had in its May 13, 2016 order had asked the state government to inquire into the legality and bona fides of the action of the persons responsible for illegally entertaining the applications of the builder and releasing the land to it, when it had no title to the land on the date of the notification under Section 4 and proceed against them in accordance with law.
BJP govt’s volte face
The climbdown made by chief minister ML Khattar, who had categorically told the Haryana assembly on March 13 that the state government has decided to refer Rohtak’s Uddar Gagan case adjudicated by the Supreme Court in May 2016 to the CBI for investigation seems to have its roots in the relationship the real estate company Uddar Gagan Properties Ltd has with Laxmi Narain Goel, the brother of Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana and media baron, Subhash Chandra.
Leader of the Opposition in Haryana assembly, Abhay Singh Chautala on Tuesday said in a press conference that Chandra’s brother Laxmi Narain Goel controlled Uddar Gagan Properties.
“The relationship between former chief minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Subhash Chandra runs deep. Hooda ordered the release of Rohtak land and grant of licences due to this deep old relationship with Chandra,’’ the leader of the opposition alleged.
Chautala said by appointing a retired judge instead of a CBI probe, the BJP government has formed an axis of corruption by joining hands with the Congress and Uddar Gagan properties to create grounds for letting the culprits go free.
“The BJP government wants to have a tailor-made inquiry which would suit their interests,’’ he alleged.
Chandra who contested as an Independent won the Upper House seat from Haryana with the support of the ruling BJP in 2016.
As per the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) records accessed by HT, Chandra’s brother Laxmi Narain Goel remained a director in Uddar Gagan Properties Private Ltd from October 7, 1997 till May 15, 2014. Goel bowed out as director of Uddar Gagan five months after the Punjab and Haryana high court on December 20, 2013 issued an adverse order.
The HC had declared the colonisation licences of Uddar Gagan null and void and quashed the orders of the release of land. The HC order was upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2016.
How a CBI inquiry would have harmed Uddar Gagan?
A CBI probe in the matter would have serious repercussions on Uddar Gagan Properties as the developer would have been listed as an accused leading to criminal proceedings, grilling, loss of reputation, clientele and freezing of bank accounts. In a similar Manesar land release case, the CBI has booked a number of real estate developers and frozen their bank accounts.
The scathing remarks made by the HC and SC have pointed towards the complicity of the developer in the entire episode.
Sample these: “The names of landowner were kept at the forefront in the government files to hide the identity of Uddar Gagan.. to give a misleading impression as if the real beneficiaries of state largess were the small time landowners. The collusion between Uddar Gagan and senior functionaries is writ large …. . Farmers stood ousted from the scene since March/April, 2005 and it was Uddar Gagan who masqueraded for them.
Meanwhile, state officials have refused to talk about the government’s somersault.
However, documents accessed by the HT described the justification given by the chief minister to appoint a retired judge to conduct an inquiry. The documents said though the inquiry officer (Rajan Gupta) went into the aspect of illegality but since he did not answer the question regarding the bona fides of the actions of the persons responsible his inquiry report cannot be accepted in toto.
“In order to ensure compliance of the apex court’s orders, the chief minister has observed it necessary to entrust the task to complete the inquiry to someone to whom the facts underlined above would not appear to be a constraint in judging the bonafides of the persons responsible…….,’’ said the noting.
The noting also said that clear recommendations would be made to enable the government to carry out SC directions to proceed against them in accordance with the law, both civil and criminal.
An official spokesperson did not respond to a query whether the state government will order a CBI probe after the completion of inquiry by Justice (retd) RS Madan.
‘Chandra has nothing to do with the matter’
Subhash Chandra’s assistant Abhishek, however, in reply to a text message said: “Subhash Chandra and his brothers separated in 2012. He is not even aware of any such issue and has nothing to do with the matter. Since Chandra is not even aware of any such issue, how could he influence it?”
Chandra’s brother Laxmi Narain Goel did not respond to a number of phone calls and text messages.