New Delhi: Ashok Khemka, a senior bureaucrat in Haryana, was transferred three days after he ordered an inquiry into all land deals within the state between businessman Robert Vadra, who is the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and realty giant DLF. Yesterday, Mr Khemka cancelled DLF's purchase of 3.5 acres from Mr Vadra for 58 crores.
Here's your 10-point cheat-sheet to this story:
- Mr Khemka has cancelled the mutation in favour of DLF for 3.5 acres of land from Mr Vadra. Effectively, this means that DLF can no longer be considered the owner of the property. (Case timeline)
- Mr Khemka says that guidelines were violated in how the land was transferred from Mr Vadra to DLF, and in the clearance given by the Haryana government to Mr Vadra to sell his land. (Probe ordered into Vadra-DLF land deal: Govt documents)
- Mr Vadra's company, Sky Light Hospitality, bought 3.5 acres in Manesar-Shikohpur in February 2008 for Rs. 7.5 crore. The next day, the plot was mutated in favour of Sky Light. That means that the title of the land was transferred to Mr Vadra within 24 hours of his purchase, a process that usually takes at least three months.
- Barely a month later, the Haryana government gave Mr Vadra's firm permission to develop a housing project on most of that land, escalating its worth so sharply that in June that year, DLF agreed to buy the plot for 58 crores. So in three months, the value of Mr Vadra's property jumped from a little over Rs. 7 crore to Rs.58 crore.
- The first installment was paid by DLF to Mr Vadra in June 2008. The property was formally transferred to DLF only four years later, in September this year. Because the payments were distributed over a period of nearly four years, capital gains taxes, owed on the profitable deal, could have been legitimately deferred by Mr Vadra's company. Last week, Mr Khemka ordered that all land bought and sold by Mr Vadra in Haryana should be scrutinized to determine the real value" of the properties. He says he felt that to evade stamp duty or taxes, the properties may have been registered at below their true market worth.
- Three days after he commissioned this inquiry and asked for it to be completed by October 25, he was transferred as Haryana's Director-General of Land Consolidation and Land Records-cum-Inspector-General of Registration.
- In an attempt to counter fierce criticism, Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has said that Mr Khemka's transfer was "not a punishment" and that the Chief Secretary of the government will investigate the DLF-Vadra deal cancelled by Mr Khemka. (Read: Khemka transferred - Who said what)
- Mr Khemka says that his inquiry into Mr Vadra's property deals was motivated partly by the accusations of corruption made by activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal, who has said that in return for sweetheart deals extended to Mr Vadra, DLF got special treatment in its main market of Haryana, where the Congress has been in power since 2004. Referring to Mr Kejriwal's allegations, Mr Khemka said, "The confidence of the people must be restored in public offices. So if the allegations being leveled is wild, let it come out. And if the allegations are true, then certainly actions must be called for. " (Watch)
- Mr Khekma has been transferred more than 40 times in a career spanning two decades, which he describes as "demoralising and dehumanising." In a letter to the Haryana government last week, he said that he was being persecuted for exposing land scams coordinated by builders, politicians and bureaucrats.
- However, in that letter written to the Chief Secretary of the Haryana government, Dr Khemka did not refer to his inquiry or concerns about Mr Vadra's land deals.