Chandigarh: The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on controversial land transactions in Haryana has almost vindicated the position of bureaucrat Ashok Khemka on the Robert Vadra-DLF land deal.
Tabled in the state assembly on Wednesday, it has accused the previous Congress government of showing undue favours to Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The CAG report has said that the “possibility of extending undue benefit to particular applicant (Vadra’s company) cannot be ruled out”.
It has also questioned the ‘distinction’ made by Hooda’s government for Vadra’s company in giving permissions. It had helped Vadra by giving sanction in haste to the permissions required, the report suggested.
Under the deal which had been under scrutiny for the last few years, Vadra’s company, Skylight Hospitality, had allegedly sold a prime 3.5 acre piece of land in Manesar in Gurgaon district to DLF in 2008 for Rs 58 crore when the land had only cost his company around Rs 15 crore, earning a cool profit of around Rs 44 crore. It was sold to DLF after obtaining change of land use (CLU) and other permissions from the Hooda government.
Senior IAS officer and the then Haryana Director, General Consolidation, Ashok Khemka, who was the first one to point out and object to this deal, had also ordered its scrapping. Khemka, who has been proved right now by the CAG, had claimed at that time that the deal was illegal and stood no chance of being allowed.
Khemka had alleged that the Rs 7.5 crore that Vadra used for buying the land in question, which he later sold to DLF, was not his own, as he had just Rs 1 lakh in his account at that time.
Khemka went on to cancel the land mutation of the Vadra-DLF land deal for development of a commercial complex at the venue, a step that saw him subjected to a lot of harassment by the Hooda-led government.
Asked for his reaction after his daring action against Vadra had been vindicated, Ashok Khemka told Firstpost that he had nothing to say as he had only done his official duty and nothing else. “I have no comment to offer now.’’ He, however said that, “there is much more than what the CAG has pointed out.”
However since then he has tweeted, saying that despite being vindicated, he continued to suffer the ‘stigma’ of the chargesheet filed against him:
The land deal controversy had become a national issue before both the general elections in the country in 2014 and also in the Haryana assembly elections.
The then government had fiercely defended the questionable land deal even as Khemka was taken to task. The opposition parties in Haryana had alleged that it was doing everything to help Vadra.
Earlier, Anil Vij, Haryana’s Health minister, had told Firstpost that there were discrepancies in the Vadra-DLF land deal and the former made profit illegally. The revenue he earned should have gone to the Haryana government according to rules. “After the Haryana government examines the CAG report, it will take necessary action in this regard,” he had said.
However, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has been non-committal on initiating an investigation into the deal. “The BJP government’s priority in Haryana is to implement its agenda and not to run a vendetta campaign,” Khattar had said in Chandigarh. “Law will take its own course in the Robert Vadra land deal case,’’ he said.
Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala was not available for comment. He had lashed out earlier at the BJP government for `unnecessarily questioning the land deal’. “Vadra is being hounded as part of political propaganda against the Congress,” he had said then.
Pawan Jain, Haryana Congress spokesman, said there was no wrongdoing in the Vadra case. “The Hooda government had not done anything wrong. We will challenge the CAG report to prove it.”
“This is just the beginning. We are not at all surprised. Many more scams in Haryana will come out in the days to come, especially those related to land deals. Not for nothing was the Congress government known to be a party of property dealers,” Dushyant Chautala, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MP from Hisar constituency, said.