PUNJAB AND Haryana High Court on Wednesday summoned the entire record regarding constitution of the Justice S N Dhingra Commission. This was in response to a petition filed by former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, challenging the constitution and outcome of the Justice S N Dhingra Commission that had pointed out irregularities in issuing licences to various real estate companies in Gurgaon during the previous Congress regime.
After hearing arguments of Hooda’s counsel and former Union minister Kapil Sibal, a division bench, comprising judges AK Mittal and Ramendra Jain, posted the case for the next hearing to December 8. Haryana Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan assured the court that the commission’s report would not be made public till then.
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The commission was constituted on May 13, 2015, by the BJP government to probe grant of licence in four villages of Gurgaon – Shikohpur, Sihi, Kherki Daula and Sikanderpur Badha (sectors 78 to 86) – to various real estate companies, including Skylight Hospitality owned by Robert Vadra. In his 182-page report, submitted to the CM on August 31, Justice Dhingra is learnt to have made his observations against the procedural irregularities done by then town and country planning officers as well as the office of then CM Hooda.
Hooda has sought directions to quash the Haryana CM’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 the commission’s report before the HC in a sealed cover and “not to publish the same in any manner without the specific permission of this court”. The court was told that the Haryana government has mischievously chosen to publish the report just before the Assembly elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh only to get undue advantage from adverse remarks in the report for electoral gains.
A plea has also been made for quashing the commission’s report regarding observations against Hooda. It was submitted that Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar while passing the order to constitute the Commission of Inquiry did not take any government functionaries into confidence, nor was there any complaint and thus the purpose was to conduct a probe to “tie the noose in whose neck it fits”.
The petition reads, “It has been reliably learnt that the Respondent No. 3 (Justice Dhingra) has made disparaging remarks against the petitioner (Hooda) in his report…respondents are trying to get certain portions of the report, which point to the present government’s wrongdoings, changed as such portions are likely to embarrass the present government.” Hooda has alleged that BJP, instead of focusing on welfare of the state, has “been engaging in witch-hunt”.
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