The Congress government in Haryana has officially legitimised the land deal between party chief Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and DLF.
Haryana’s former director general, Consolidation, Ashok Khemka had cancelled the mutation of the land, in village Shikhopur, Gurgaon, following a deal between M/s Skylight Hospitality owned by Vadra and real-estate giant DLF Universal Ltd.
Although the Haryana government had claimed that Khemka’s orders were not “valid”, it had maintained silence on the order’s legal repercussions.
In a letter to the Haryana Chief Secretary and Financial Commissioner (Revenue), with a copy to the present Director General, Consolidation, on July 16, Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner Shekhar Vidyarthi informed that the “mutation stands valid” and that, “Presently, according to revenue records, M/s DLF Universal Limited stands owner of the land”.
The letter quotes a report prepared by the Assistant Consolidation Officer (ACO) terming his superior officer Khemka’s orders as “illegal”, “void” and “out of jurisdiction”. An ACO is far junior in rank to the Director General, Consolidation.
“I do not remember such a letter,” Haryana Chief Secretary Shakuntla Jakhu told The Indian Express when asked about the matter. “I cannot comment on it unless I see it.”
At the time the letter was sent, Jakhu was the Financial Commissioner (Revenue). S C Choudhary, who was the chief secretary then, is now retired. Choudhary too claimed not to “exactly remember the contents of such a letter”. “I might have been on tour on that day, that is why there are no comments from my side on that letter. Otherwise too, the Chief Secretary had no role to play in that. It pertains to the Financial Commissioner (Revenue).”
On the July 16 letter, both the Chief Secretary and Financial Commissioner (Revenue) had not made any comments. The notings showed both as “busy”. Without their comments, the letter was marked to their offices and dealt by lower-rank officers and taken on record.
Vidyarthi, who sent the letter, told The Indian Express that he “did not pass any orders”. “In fact, it all happened before I took over as the Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner. The letter was written by me, but I have merely informed the government about what the ACO reported to me.”
Vidyarthi added that the ACO was within his rights to call Khemka’s orders “illegal”. “He (ACO) is the competent authority. In revenue parlance, he has to record the reasons for not implementing an order, which he has done.”
In the Vadra-DLF land deal, an ACO had sanctioned the mutation. In an order dated October 4, 2012, Khemka, as DG, Consolidation, had held that ACOs did not have powers to sanction mutations. On October 15, 2012, he had cancelled the Vadra-DLF land deal’s mutation on this ground.
Following this, a dispute had arisen between Khemka’s orders and the state government’s “perception” on the powers of an ACO.
“After Khemka’s orders, the ACO sought clarification from the state government that since there were many other such mutations pending, should he cancel those as well. There was a lot of communication. The letter is a part of this communication. I am merely a post-office in this,” Vidyarthi said.
On July 16, Vidyarthi wrote a letter to the Haryana Chief Secretary and Financial Commissioner (Revenue) referring to “mutation no. 4513 in village Shikhopur, Tehsil Manesar, District Gurgaon (the Vadra-DLF land mutation)” and “clarification/ instructions regarding duties of Assistant Consolidation Officers”.
Quoting the ACO’s report, the letter said, “A mutation no. 4513… for Khasra no. 730 measuring 5 bighas and 13 biswas was sanctioned by ACO on September 20, 2012, while exercising the powers of Assistant Collector second grade. Because of the mutation’s sanction, neither of the parties (has) any objection till date.”
The ACO’s report added, “Former DG, Consolidation, Ashok Khemka, in his orders dated October 4, 2012, mentioned that ACO did not have powers of Assistant Collector second grade. Thus the mutation no. 4513 was wrongly sanctioned. In the history of land consolidation, ACOs had been sanctioning mutations. If former DG, Consolidation’s, orders… are followed, it will lead to a legal dispute. Because the orders dated October 4, 2012, are not right as per law and ACO, without making any changes to mutation no. 4513, had followed all the norms and acted as per law. Former DG, Consolidation’s, orders dated October 4, 2012, are illegal, void and out of jurisdiction. Had anybody (had) any objections pertaining to mutation no. 4513, they would have appealed in various courts… Thus the order dated October 4, 2012, cannot be implemented, neither it was bound to be implemented, nor it was implemented.”
It went on further, “In this regard, DG, Consolidation, in his letter dated June 19, 2014, has made it clear that it is the duty of ACO that he exercises powers of Assistant Collector second grade and sanction the mutations.
“Thus, mutation no. 4513 stands approved by the ACO while exercising powers of Assistant Collector second grade, because M/s Skylight Hospitality Private Limited had conveyed right measurements to M/s DLF Universal Limited. Presently, according to revenue records, M/s DLF Universal Limited stands owner of the land.”