In a victory to former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, a division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Thursday asked the Haryana government to not publish the Dhingra Commission report. The Dhingra Commission was set up in 2015 to probe grant of licences for development of commercial colonies in Gurgaon, including those of Robert Vadra & DLF.
The High Court has, however, said the government had enough material to set up the Commission and there was no illegality and malafide intention in the decision.
The High Court also said the Section 8B of Commission of Inquiry Act was not followed in the issuance of notice to Hooda. The sealed report, which was opened by the bench, touches upon the conduct and reputation of Hooda.
Section 8B of Commision of Inquiry Act states that if the reputation of any person is likely to be prejudicially affected by the inquiry, then the Commission shall give to that person a reasonable opportunity of being heard and to produce evidence in his defence, provided that nothing in this section shall apply where the credit of a witness is being impeached.
The judges of the bench — Justices Anupinder Singh Grewal and A K Mittal — have differed over the issue of the future of the Commission and its report. Justice Mittal said the Commission can start afresh on the point of issuance of notice to Hooda. Under the provision, he has to be given the right to hearing as there are adverse findings against him in the report.
Justice Grewal said the Commission is no more in existence and said at this stage the state can only create a new Commission on the same subject. He has also quashed the report.
Welcoming the judgment, Hooda said,” I welcome the High Court’s verdict. I had been saying this from day 1 that proper procedures were not followed.”
Meanwhile, Justice (retired) S N Dhingra abstained from commenting over the judgment. “The High Court can have its own view. I cannot say anything in this — it’s the government’s prerogative if they want to set up a new commission. I can not comment anything on this. They (High Court) have given their viewpoint,” he said.
Probing allegedly shady land deals in Gurugram was one of the top poll promises made by the BJP in 2014. After coming to power in Haryana in October 2014, the party announced it will initiate a thorough probe into the land deals.
The Justice S N Dhingra Commission was constituted on May 14, 2015. The one-man Commission submitted its 182-page report to the state government on August 31, 2016. However, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda challenged Commission’s constitution in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
In the High Court, the Haryana government gave an undertaking that it will not make contents of the report public till the pendency of the case. The High Court accepted the state government’s assertion and the report was not made public.