THE DAY after NDMC official M M Khan was allegedly murdered for refusing to take bribe from Delhi hotelier Ramesh Kakkar, Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung’s office sent Kakkar’s petition against Khan to NDMC asking for “action as per law”.
That wasn’t the only petition against Khan that Jung’s office acted on.
Records obtained by The Indian Express show that on May 11, five days before Khan was murdered, the Lt Governor’s office sent another letter to NDMC, this time referring to a note from BJP East Delhi MP Maheish Girri on the same issue.
Khan was shot dead outside his house in Jamia Nagar on May 16 by two motorcycle-borne assailants. Police said he refused to accept bribe from Kakkar who wanted Khan to revoke the cancellation of the licence deed for his Connaught Hotel in Delhi. In February 2015, the NDMC had sealed it on the ground that licence fees to the tune of Rs 140 crore had not been paid to the council.
Vishwendra, private secretary to the Lt Governor, and Simi Malhotra, advisor to Lt Governor (academics, media and culture), did not respond to calls or text messages on the issue.
When contacted, Girri told The Indian Express: “My office sends out many letters to many people. However, I have never sent a letter about Mr Khan.”
However, a scrutiny of official records showed that NDMC’s reply to Jung’s letter on Girri’s note mentions the Connaught Hotel case. The NDMC’s replies to the two letters from the Lt Governor’s office were sent after Khan’s death and endorsed the stand Khan had taken.
On May 18, police arrested Kakkar and five others for the murder. Khan was killed two days before he was scheduled to pass the final order on the hotel’s lease terms.
Khan’s murder has since sparked a political row between the AAP-led Delhi government and the BJP, particularly after a letter written by BJP leader and NDMC vice-chairperson Karan Singh Tanwar to Jung surfaced. Tanwar’s letter, dated May 6, alleged that Khan was behaving in “an arbitrary and unjust manner” in the Connaught Hotel dispute and sought Jung’s intervention and action against “erring officials”.
In his May 17 communication to NDMC, Jung attached Kakkar’s petition which mentioned Tanwar’s letter. “It has been desired that the petition (attached) be examined, especially from the legal point of view with respect to the dispute raised by the petitioner, and appropriate action taken as per law. Action taken/ position taken in the matter may kindly be intimated to this office,” stated the letter signed by Vishwendra, private secretary to the Lt Governor.
This letter did not mention Khan’s death the day before.
In his petition dated May 10, Kakkar wrote: “…the estate officer (Khan) is proceeding with the case without adopting the process of law… and is acting in an arbitrary, unjust and biased manner.”
Kakkar also mentioned Tanwar’s letter: “It would be pertinent to mention that the vice chairman of NDMC… has highlighted the biased approach of the estate officer and how it will be a hindrance in discharge of justice.”
The Lt Governor’s office sent its first letter on the issue to the NDMC on May 11. “Attached is a letter submitted to the Hon’ble Lt Governor by Shri Maheish Giri, Member of Parliament, East Delhi which is self explanatory. Necessary action as per law be taken in the matter and action taken be reported to this office,” stated the letter, also signed by Vishwendra.
In its reply to the May 11 letter, the NDMC said on May 19: “The licence deed was cancelled and such cancellation of licence deed was upheld by the Hon’ble High Court… This order was further confirmed by Hon’ble Supreme Court… dated 23.11.2015. Since the highest court of the country has upheld the legality of the cancellation of the licence deed by the NDMC and as such the issue of arbitration clause does not survive.”
To the second letter from the Lt Governor’s office, the NDMC said, “…In this context, it is to submit that the issue raised…was already examined and replied to LG office…dated 19.5.2015. Since the licence deed does not exist, no case is made out.”
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