Justice S N Dhingra, who was appointed to probe issues concerning the grant of license(s) for developing commercial colonies in Gurgaon Sector 83 by Haryana’s Department of Town and Country Planning, on Thursday asked for more time to submit the report.
Justice Dhingra, who was meant to submit on Friday a report on whether Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, was the beneficiary of a sweetheart deal when her party was in power, said that he needs an extension of six more weeks.
What the allegations are
The alleged scam revolves around Haryana-cadre IAS officer Ashok Khemka, Vadra, and the latter's company.
The company in question is Skylight Hospitality, which bought a 3.5-acre plot in Shikohpur village near Manesar. The same plot was later sold to DLF at a huge profit.
According to a report by Tehelka magazine, the land in question, purchased by Vadra's company for around Rs 7 crore, was sold to DLF for an amount of Rs 58 crore. The report added that in the period between its purchase and sale, the then Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led government in the state granted a Change of Land Use (CLU) permission for the land. Due to the CLU permission, the report said that the value of the plot of land in question shot up sharply.
Alleging various irregularities, Khemka, in late 2012, set aside the mutation of the property sold by Vadra to DLF. However, the then Congress-run state government later gave a clean chit to Vadra.
According to Khemka's report, submitted in May of 2013 in response to a Haryana government committee's clean chit to Vadra, a statement regarding book overdraft in the Skylight balance sheet for the year ended March 2008 was false. “The bank balance is wrongly shown as book overdraft (OD) of Rs 7,94,00,000.”
Further, at serial no. 6 of the Notes To Accounts, the following was indicated: “The OD shown in Corporation Bank account is book OD due to cheque issued before balance sheet date but not presented up to balance date, which is cleared after balance sheet date.”
Khemka said in his report: “This was a false statement.” According to him, the actual and correct position as on March 31, 2008, was that Onkareshwar Properties Pvt Ltd was the creditor of Sky Light Hospitality to the extent of Rs 7.95 crore and the actual bank balance was Rs 1 lakh.
Khemka also said: “The cheque no. 607251, dated February 9, 2008, shown to be paid to M/s Onkareshwar Properties in the registered deed no. 4928 dated 12.2.2008 for Rs 7.5 crore does not belong to M/s Sky Light Hospitality.”
The payment of Rs 7.95 crore was made to Onkareshwar Properties after money was received from DLF Universal Ltd (then known as, DLF Retail Developers Ltd) in the shape of advance or interest-free loan.
With the two documents – land title and Letter of Intent for grant of colony licence – in its possession, it became possible for Sky Light Hospitality to execute a “collaboration agreement” with DLF Retail Developers, which was done on August 5, 2008, and to receive huge amounts as advance or interest-free loan from DLF. According to the balance sheet of Sky Light Hospitality as on March 31, 2009, the company had received advances of Rs 25 crore from the DLF Group towards the joint-venture and land accounts during the year 2008-09.
This funding from the DLF Group was used to clear the dues of Rs 7.95 crore — Rs 7.5 crore towards cost of land plus Rs 45 lakh towards stamp duty, to Onkareshwar Properties, the vendor-company, which sold the land to Sky Light.
The motive of the sham transactions was to corner the huge market premium on account of the commercial colony licence, Khemka alleged.
Clean chit to Vadra in 2012
The Hindu quoted an official release saying: “The Deputy Commissioners of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Mewat have inspected all the documents registered in their districts from January 1, 2005, till date by or on behalf of Mr. Vadra or his companies in the capacity of either vendor or vendee and have certified that no deed has been found registered as undervalued.”
CAG report digs up the case, raps then Congress-led state government
In its report for the year 2013-14, tabled in the Haryana Assembly in March of 2015, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) came down heavily on the Town and Country Planning Department.
Though the report did not name Vadra, his company, Skylight Hospitality, was named.
The report noted irregularities and alleged that exceptions had been made in the case of the plot owned by Vadra's company.
Subsequently, a one-man commission headed by Justice Dhingra was set up by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Haryana, in May 2015, to probe controversial land deals in Haryana, including Vadra's land deals.
Congress fights back
Yadav, according to the report, was referring to the BJP-led state government sanctioning the building of a road leading to a school being set up by a trust headed by Dhingra in a village in Gurugram.
Vadra, for his part, responded to the latest developments in a Facebook post.
"Almost a decade of governments false and baseless accusations on me! They cannot prove anything without proof, and there is nothing there to prove..." Vadra said.