In 2008, when the then Congress government of Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Haryana granted licence for a colony in Gurgaon to Skylight Hospitality of Robert Vadra, officers who were supposed to determine whether the applicant had capacity to build gave the go-ahead saying since he was the director of the firm and son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, he was a VIP and, therefore, had capacity to build. This, sources said, is one of the testimonies by officers of the Department of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) examined by the Justice (retd) S N Dhingra Commission of Inquiry.
The probe commission constituted to go into the circumstances under which licences were granted for development of colonies in Gurgaon and whether transfer of licences violated the law, submitted its report to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in August last year.
Hooda challenged the constitutional validity of the Dhingra commission. He alleged that Khattar decided to constitute the panel because of malice and in pursuit of a political vendetta.
While the contents of the probe report is still under wraps — Justice Dhingra has declined to comment, saying he has done his job and it is up to the courts to decide whether his report should be made public — sources said the capacity-to-build is one of the key factors that the DTCP has to consider before granting licence to a coloniser. The DTCP is also responsible for granting change of land use (CLU) certificates.
The Haryana Development and Regulation of Urban Areas Act does not specify that a CLU applicant should have capacity to build the project for which the CLU is being sought but the law is very clear that a licence applicant must have the capacity to build the colony.
Sources said the Dhingra commission had a very close look at this aspect. It is learnt that officers then serving in the DTCP told the commission that capacity-to-build in the case of Skylight Hospitality was determined on the basis of the status of its director.
The Gurgaon Town Planning officer, sources said, informed the commission that Vadra was Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law and since he was a VIP, he had capacity to build a colony. This officer’s report, sources said, was approved by his seniors in the DTCP and by the then Chief Minister.