How a VIP status for Robert Vadra helped him in business deals

The then Congress government in Haryana, led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda, in 2008, had granted licences to Robert Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality for building a colony in Gurgaon simply on the ground that the director of the firm was a VIP and the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

This has been revealed by the testimonies of the officers of Department of Town and Country Planning (DTCP), Gurgaon before the Justice (retd) SN Dhingra Commission of Inquiry whose remit is to look into land deals involving Robert Vadra and circumstances under which licences were granted to Skylight Hospitality for development of colonies in Gurgaon.

According to reports, the Gurgaon Town Planning officer has informed the Dhingra Commission that granting of license to Skylight Hospitality was determined on the basis of the “status” of its director.

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“Vadra was Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law and since he was a VIP, he had the capacity to build a colony.” This was what Gurgaon Town Planning officer had recommended. This officer’s report was subsequently approved by senior officials in DTCP and then by the then Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

It could be noted that the DTCP is also responsible for granting change of land use (CLU) certificates. The Haryana Development and Regulation of Urban Areas Act doesn’t specify that a CLU applicant should have the capacity to build the project, but a licence applicant must have the capacity to build the colony.

Justice (retd) SN Dhingra Commission of Inquiry was set up in May 2015 by the BJP government led by Manohar Lal Khattar. The Commission had submitted its report to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in August last year.

Even as the contents of the probe panel is still under wraps, Justice Dhingra has reportedly said that he has done his job and it is up to the courts to decide whether the report should be made public.

The Congress chose to challenge the constitutional validity of the Dhingra Commission and alleged that the BJP government had set up the Commission in “pursuit of a political vendetta”.

Earlier the commission had discovered a land transaction undertaken by Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s daughter and Robert Vadra’s wife Priyanka Gandhi. Priyanka had bought 5 acres of agricultural land in Amipur village in Faridabad district of Haryana for Rs 15 lakh on April 28, 2006. That piece of land was resold to the original owner around four years later on February 17, 2010 at over five times the original price.

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