Whether Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, was bestowed with a really sweet spot in Haryana when her party was in power has been explained in a report that will be submitted this evening to the Haryana government.
The inquiry clocked nearly a year and was conducted by retired judge SN Dhingra, who was appointed by the BJP government to uncover the land deals struck by Mr Vadra and other developers while the Congress governed the state.
Controversially, Justice Dhingra, 67, who served as a judge of the Delhi High Court, did not summon either Mr Vadra or representatives from his real estate firm, Sky Light Hospitality, for questioning. That’s because he wanted to meet only with government officers in person, the judge told NDTV in an exclusive interview, adding that “private parties were sent questionnaires to which they responded”.
However, the judge also did not meet in person with senior bureaucrat Ashok Khemka, considered a “whistle-blower” in Mr Vadra’s case. He had cancelled Mr Vadra’s land deal and was transferred within three days of his action.
On Facebook today, Mr Vadra, 47, posted, “Almost a decade of government’s false and baseless accusations on me… I will always be used for political gains, I know … But I will walk with my head held high…”.
Justice Dhingra, who retired in 2011, said he cannot reveal more about his inquiry till Chief Minister ML Khattar reviews his report.
Getting to the bottom of Mr Vadra’s allegedly corrupt land deals was a promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the general election in 2014 and then again during the campaign for the state election in Haryana later that year.
The controversy around Mr Vadra is based on a 3.5-acre plot in Gurgaon, now known as Gurugram, that he bought in 2008 for 7.5 crores and sold just months later for 58 crores to India’s largest real estate developer, DLF.
Mr Vadra and DLF have denied any wrongdoing. The Congress, Mrs Gandhi, and her daughter Priyanka have refuted the allegations of a sweetheart deal, flagging the inquiry as “political vendetta”. BS Hooda, who was the Congress Chief Minister, ignored one summon from Justice Dhingra.
The BJP says that as the party governing the state, the Congress flagrantly violated the rules, not just in selling the land to Mr Vadra at a massive discount, but in lightning-speed clearances for the plot to be used for commercial purposes, which sharply escalated its value.
Mr Vadra’s transaction is among a retinue of deals in four Gurgaon villages that have been studied by Justice Dhingra, who says that while Mrs Gandhi’s mother-in-law Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister, he wrote to her about officers in the Defence Ministry accepting bribes in exchange for declaring military vehicles fit for purchase and use.
“With me the difficulty was that I used to test the quality of each element. I decided that I was a misfit in the department as most people were taking commissions and I would not. I even wrote to the chief of my department and PM Indira Gandhi about what was happening.” said Justice Dhingra to NDTV.
The former judge who was 22 at the time, said that he initially enjoyed the job as a Defence Ministry vehicle inspector, even test-driving a Russian battle tank in Ahmednagar, but the vast corruption he witness prompted him to resign.
The Congress has today questioned the fairness of his inquiry, alleging that the Haryana government has spent a vast amount of money in making a school operated by Justice Dhingra’s charitable trust more accessible with a specially-constructed road in Gurgaon.