Bhupinder Singh Hooda fails to block report on Robert Vadra's Rs50-cr windfall

Former chief minister of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda has failed to get the Punjab and Haryana High Court issue an order restraining The Economic Times from publishing the contents of the Justice S N Dhingra report on alleged irregularities in allotment of land licences in Gurgaon.

Hooda withdrew his plea after the court said it had no jurisdiction to block the report that claims the in-law of Congress Party's first family made a Rs50 crore gain without any pain.

But, Vadra's wife Priyanka Gandhi promptly came to her husband's defence soon, stating that the land acquisitions were made from rental incomes of her grandmother Indira Gandhi's properties and that Vadra or his firm has nothing to do with the transactions.

The Economic Times today promptly carried a report which quoted the Justice Dhingra panel report as stating that Robert Vadra, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law ''made gains of Rs50 crore from a land deal in Haryana in 2008 without spendinga single paisa.''

The Dhingra Commission, appointed to look into the alleged irregularities in the allotment of licences to real estate companies in Haryana, had also perused records related to land deals by Robert Vadra, his company Skylight Hospitality and real estate major DLF.

The Indian Express had, on 1 September 2016, reported that the Dhingra Commission, constituted by the Haryana government in May 2015 to probe grant of commercial licences in four villages of Gurgaon to real estate companies, including Skylight Hospitality, had found ''gross procedural irregularities in allotment of licences''.

The source of funds for the land she bought and sold in Faridabad ''has no relationship whatsoever with Shri Robert Vadra's finances and/or Skylight Hospitality and no relationship whatsoever with DLF,'' Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said in her statement issued hours after the court dismissed Hood's plea.

The press release issued by Priyanka Gandhi's office stated: ''Six years prior to the purported ''land deal involving Skylight Hospitality'' on April 28, 2006, Smt. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra purchased 40 Kanal 00 Marla (5 acres) of agricultural land in Village Amipur, Tehsil Faridabad, District Faridabad in Haryana.

''The land was purchased for a total purchase price of Rs15,00,000 paid for entirely by cheque, which is the equivalent of Rs3,00,000 per acre. The source of funds for the aforesaid purchase was rental income of Smt. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from property inherited by her from her grandmother Smt Indira Gandhi. The source of funds for this or any other property acquired by Smt Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has no relationship whatsoever with Shri Robert Vadra's finances and/or Skylight Hospitality and no relationship whatsoever with DLF.''

''…Smt. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra resold the said land to the original vendor pursuant to a right of first refusal on February 17, 2010 (four years later) for a sale price of Rs80,00,000 entirely by cheque which is the equivalent of Rs16,00,000 (Rupees Sixteen Lacs) per acre and was the prevailing market rate at that time.''

Hooda, the Congress leader from Rohtak, is facing a probe by the state vigilance department and the CBI for allegedly manipulating land allotment rules and regulations in Gurgaon during his double-term tenure as chief minister from 2005-2014.

The Justice Dhingra report has indicted certain senior officials who were posted in the Town and Country Planning (T&CP) department and the office of the chief minister and recommended registration of FIRs against officials in some cases of grant of commercial licences.

Hooda moved swiftly, before the state government could table the report in Vidhan Sabha, and approached the high court challenging the constitution of the commission.

He also got the Haryana Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan give an undertaking in court that the report's contents would not be made public. The court subsequently ordered an interim stay and barred the state government from releasing the report.