Vadra-DLF Land Deal Turns Into Political Mess
Chandigarh: The abrupt transfer of a Haryana official who axed the mutation of a prime plot in Gurgaon sold by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra’s company to realty giant DLF for Rs.58 crore Tuesday led to a political uproar.
While the Congress defended the Haryana government’s decision to shift IAS officer Ashok Khemka, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sought an independent probe. A friend of Khemka said he had started getting death threats.
Even after Haryana ordered a probe into the actions of officials, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda insisted that his government had not favoured anyone in land deals. The state also countered Khemka’s claims over his transfer.
Khemka, shunted out Oct 11 as director general of Land Consolidation and Land Records-cum-inspector general of Registration, cancelled the mutation on his last day in office Monday.
Because of Khemka’s action, DLF will not be able get the title of the prime land, measuring over 3.5 acres, transferred to its name. It will remain in the name of Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality. The land was sold to DLF Sep 18 though the agreement to sell was executed in June 2008.
Documents show that Khemka had Oct 8 also initiated a probe into the land deals done by Vadra and his companies in four districts of Haryana adjoining Delhi. He was transferred just three days later by the Hooda government to the Haryana Seeds Development Corp.
On Oct 12, a day after his transfer, Khemka told deputy commissioners of Gurgaon, Mewat, Faridabad and Palwal districts to inspect all documents of land deals by Vadra and his companies from 2005 to probe under-valuation of property to evade stamp duty. He sought a report by Oct 25. “The mutation has been cancelled on technical grounds. The officer (who did the mutation) was not authorised to do so,” Khemka said here.
According to Khemka’s order, Vadra’s company purchased the prime land, on the Manesar-Gurgaon road, in February 2008 for Rs.7.5 crore. A month later, Vadra’s company got a licence from Haryana’s town and country planning (TCP) department to develop a housing colony at the site. Vadra entered into an “agreement to sell” with DLF within 65 days of the licence being granted for Rs.58 crore.
The TCP renewed the housing colony licence in January 2011 in the name of Vadra’s company though he had got nearly Rs.50 crore from DLF till October 2009 under the sale agreement executed earlier. Khemka, in his order, has questioned this also.
In a letter to Haryana’s chief secretary, Khemka, who has over 40 transfers in 21 years, objected to his latest “abrupt transfer” and sought reasons for it. Hooda said: “In case the assertions made by the IAS officer proves someone guilty, action will be taken. And if Khemka has misquoted facts, action will be taken against him.”
In New Delhi, activist Arvind Kejriwal — who was the first to allege controversial land deals involving Vadra and DLF — said an “honest officer” had been transferred for exposing a land scam.
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said Khemka had been booted out because he had acted “against the first family of the Congress”.
The Congress defended Hooda. “Transfers and postings of bureaucrats is the prerogative of the state government,” Congress general secretary B.K. Hari Prasad said.
People close to Khemka said he was getting death threats. “He told me he has received some phone calls in which people asked him to stop his activities or he would be eliminated,” Khemka’s friend and senior lawyer Anupam Gupta said, adding, “Those threatening him say they have given a supari (underworld contract) to eliminate him.”
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