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CBI lodges case against builders of Ambience Mall, HUDA, govt officials, conducts raids

CBI teams initiated parallel searches at the government offices of town and country planning department, HUDA (now Haryana Shahri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP)) and premises of the accused at Delhi, Panchkula and Chandigarh.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | August 11, 2020 2:43:15 pm
The Tatas had made it clear there is a restriction on transfer of Tata Sons shares to a non-shareholder since it is a closely held company.

Acting on directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, CBI has registered a case in connection with the alleged illegal construction of the Ambience Mall, against Raj Singh Gehlot of Ambience Developers and Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, unknown officials of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), the state town and country planning department and unknown private persons.

The court issued the instruction after disposing of a petition, filed in 2015, “related to alleged illegal construction of commercial building at approximately 18.98 acres of land in Gurugram by blatantly flouting building bylaws and statutory provisions in collusion with others”.

Soon after registration of the case, CBI teams initiated parallel searches at four locations including in the government offices of town and country planning department, HUDA (now Haryana Shahri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP)) and premises of the accused at Delhi, Panchkula and Chandigarh.

Observing that the builder and authorities had “acted in collusion”, the high court had on Friday directed the CBI to probe the matter of construction of Ambience Mall on land meant for a housing project in Gurgaon and asked the agency to complete the investigation within six months.

While the CBI director has been asked to choose a team of officers for the purpose, a status report has been ordered to be submitted within three months in a sealed cover. The court has also quashed the permissions, including licence granted for construction of the commercial complex, and directed the state to take necessary consequential steps forthwith.

The issue pertains to the construction raised in approximately 18.98 acres of land right adjacent to Delhi-Jaipur National Highway in Gurgaon’s Nathupur village. The land comprises a residential complex, commercial buildings and the mall. A petition was filed before the high court in 2015 alleging that the commercial complex has been raised in blatant violation of statutory provisions and rules. The complex could not have come up without the collusion of government authorities, it alleged.

The main grouse of the petitioners was that the Ambience Lagoon Island Residential Complex was originally conceived on an area of 18.98 acres but the residential area was later reduced to 7.9 acres, thus violating the builder-buyer agreement and provisions of Haryana Development and Regulation of Urban Area Act, 1975.

“The probability of connivance between the builder and the department cannot be ruled out in view of de-licensing of area meant for residential purposes and allocating the same to commercial projects. Entire sequence of events points to a prior meeting of minds between the builder and the officials who dealt with the matter. Apart from above, the fact that there has been undue enrichment of the builder perhaps with the active involvement of state officials, cannot be ignored by this court. Such enrichment is not just in violation of various enactments but also a loss to public exchequer at the cost of the general public, the apartment buyers in particular,” the division bench of Justices Rajan Gupta and Karamjit Singh said.

“The conclusion is inescapable that the submission of deed of declaration was intentionally delayed for so many years as there appears to be dishonest intention of the builder from the very inception of project to dupe buyers by raising a commercial complex within the space sanctioned for a group housing project. The design to develop a commercial complex was never divulged either by the builder or state authorities to the innocent buyers at any stage. An ambiguous term was used in the builder-buyer agreement that 8.0 acre was reserved for ‘future development’,” the order said.

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