Taking up a petition moved by former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda challenging the constitution and outcome of Justice SN Dhingra Commission that had pointed out irregularities in issuance of licences to various real estate companies in Gurgaon during the previous Congress regime, the Punjab and Haryana High Court Wednesday summoned the entire record with regard to constitution of the Commission.
After hearing arguments of Hooda’s counsel and former union minister Kapil Sibal, the division bench comprising Justices AK Mittal and Ramendra Jain, while refraining from issuing notice to Haryana government at this stage, posted the case for next hearing on December 8. Haryana Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan assured the court that the Commission’s report would not be made public till next hearing.
The Commission was constituted on May 13 last year by state BJP government to probe grant of licences in four villages of Gurgaon namely, Shikohpur, Sihi, Kherki Daula and Sikanderpur Badha (Sectors 78 to 86) to various real estate companies, including Skylight Hospitality owned by Congress president Sonia Gandh’s son-in-law Robert Vadra. In his 182-page report comprising two volumes submitted to the Chief Minister on August 31, Justice Dhingra is learnt to have made his observations against the procedural irregularities committed by the then Town and Country Planning officers as well as the then Chief Minister Hooda’s office.
Hooda has sought directions to quash Haryana Chief Minister’s order dated May 13 last year for constitution of the Commission and the amended notification, setting the terms of reference for the Commission “being malafide and contrary to the provisions and scheme of the Act”. He has also sought directions to the Haryana government to produce Commission’s report before the High Court in a sealed cover and not to publish the same in any manner without the specific permission of this court.
A plea has also been made for quashing Commission’s report “in so far as observations/ remarks have been made therein in relation to the petitioner (Hooda) in gross violation of principles of natural justice and Section 8 (B) of the Commission of Inquiry Act” and “to refrain from relying upon, referring to or taking any action pursuant to such observations or remarks”.
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“On 13.05.2015, an order was passed for appointing a Commission of inquiry, ostensibly in the name of the government of Haryana, but it is believed by the petitioner, it was in reality passed by the Respondent No. 2 (Khattar) at his own instance prompted solely by malice, and to pursue his party’s agenda,” reads the petition.
The petitioner has submitted that constitution of the Commission of Inquiry by the Chief Minister himself without any complaint or any material on record about any irregularity in grant of licences was unprecedented and malafide. Hooda has alleged that the BJP government instead of focusing on welfare of state has been “engaging in witch hunting and vendetta politics” and has been “waging a vicious campaign to damage the public image of the petitioner in particular and the Congress Party in general”.