Robert Vadra Unlimited – Mail Today – 21-Dec-2014
December 27, 2014 - Uncategorized
Robert Vadra loves to push the limits. And in Haryana, the Congress president Sonia Gandhi‘s son-in-law did it with nonchalance when the party was in power in the state and at the Centre.
Over the years, he has accumulated land across districts, in complete disregard to the Haryana Ceiling on Land Holdings Act 1972, and kept them under wraps. His insatiable desire to own land – in his name or in the name of companies owned by him or in the name of his wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra – translated to 146.755 acres across Gurgaon, Faridabad, Mewat and Palwal districts of Haryana. It’s a way beyond the prescribed limits; under the Act, the total physical holding of a person or family cannot exceed 21.9 hectares and 53.8 acres.
Mail Today has accessed documents in which it has been alleged that Vadra, even after selling 82.2 acres of land between 2010 and 2012, breached the land limits, and did not declare it in his affidavit before the ‘prescribed authority’ as required by the Act. By hiding his surplus land holdings, Vadra was liable to be penalised which could lead to imprisonment of up to two years under section 21 of the Act.
Vast land bank
The documents in possession of Mail Today – accessed from the district revenue office in Gurgaon – were sent by senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka to the additional director general-cum-finance commissioner of the Haryana government, and to the directorate of land record and consolidation on August 22 this year.
In his letter, Khemka has written: “It has come to my notice that the land holdings in Haryana of Mr. Robert Vadra including his owned companies and wife prima facie exceeded the permissible limit prescribed under section 4 of the Haryana Ceiling on Land Holdings Act 1972. Under section 4 of the Act the total physical holding of a person or family cannot exceed 21.9 hectares or 53.8 acres…
“The land holdings of Mr. Robert Vadra including his owned companies and wife prima facie exceeded the permissible limit on 9th January 2008 when his cumulative land holdings in Haryana reached 56.75 acres, which on 7th December 2009 increased to 146.755 acres…” These holdings were spread across Gurgaon, Faridabad, Mewat and Palwal districts of Haryana.
A maximum of 60 acres, comprising eight plots of land, had been purchased at the Kabulpur Khader village in Faridabad. About 64.28 acres of land comprising seven plots were purchased in Hassanpur village in Palwal district. At the same time, 28 acres, comprising six plots, had been bought in Shakarpuri village in Mewat district, while 3.5 acres had been bought in Shikohpur village in Gurgaon district either by Vadra or his companies between September 5 in 2005 and December 7 in 2009. In addition to this, a single plot of land in Faridabad was registered under Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s name as well (see graphic). Coincidentally, all the deals had been cleared when the Congress governments were in power in the state and the Centre.
Thereafter, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law sold over 82 acres of land to different parties. But even then he had land in surplus, beyond the prescribed limit. Khemka alleges: “Around 82.2 acres of land holdings were sold subsequently to different parties on various dates between 17th February 2010 and 27th September 2012.”
The senior officer goes on claim that Vadra did not declare that he owned surplus land, which is a punishable offence under section 21 of the Act. In his August 22, 2014 letter Khemka further writes: “During my tenure in the department, Mr. Robert Vadra did not furnish a declaration duly supported by an affidavit of his surplus land holdings in excess of the permissible area to the prescribed authority in the manner prescribed… Failing to furnish a declaration under section 9 (of the Act) is punishable with imprisonment up to two years under section 21.”
While Vadra’s land violation was flagged by Khemka, there was an alleged attempt to cover up the scam. The inquiry committee formed to probe into Khemka’s Vadra-buster order, when he was handling the case, allegedly did a shoddy job and Vadra got a clean chit. Khemka alleges that for this the chairman and the members of the inquiry committee were rewarded by the then Congress government of Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
Khemka alleges: “The threemember inquiry committee constituted by the state government tasked to inquire into my order dated 12th October 2012 seems to have deliberately omitted examination of the likely violation of the Haryana Ceiling on Land Act by Mr. Robert Vadra. In an unholy haste, an unprofessional and motivated report was submitted according a clean chit to Mr. Robert Vadra for which the chairman and the members were adequately rewarded. Even when a criminal case was pending in the anticorruption wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation against him, the chairman of the inquiry committee was given a three month extension in service after superannuation”. After that a special post of an adviser was created in the revenue department for the inquiry committee chairman, it has been alleged.
Interestingly, under section 12 (1), the surplus land vests in the state government, whether used or not, and such vesting is automatic. All rights, title and interests in surplus lands vest in the state government free from any encumbrance. However, according to sources, it is not clear what has happened to the surplus land which Vadra has not declared before the ‘prescribed authority’. And so, the buzz continues on Vadra’s land bank, and his evolution from being a man with just rupees one lakh to someone flaunting assets over Rs.300 crore. The plot thickens.