Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, has been summoned by the Rajasthan High court to appear before the Enforcement Directorate. The ED is investigating Vadra in the Bikaner land scam, and he will have to appear before ED along with his mother on February 12th as per court’s order
Robert Vadra was summoned by the ED for the third time in last week of November 2018, after he had ignored two summons issued by the agency earlier.
During a hearing of a petition filed by Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality Ltd, the Rajasthan High Court said that all partners of the firm will have to appear before the ED on February 12. Appearing on behalf of the union of India, Additional Solicitor General Rajdeepak Rastogi said that only an investigation is going on at present in the case, no FIR has been filed or charges have been fixed, hence the process can’t be stopped at this moment. Satisfied with the arguments of ASG, the court ordered all the partners of the company to cooperate with ED in the investigation.
The lawyer of the company said that his client is ready to cooperate in the probe, but his son is scheduled to undergo knee surgery in London. On this, the court gave them the flexibility to fix the date after discussion between the lawyers of both the sides. Accordingly, the date of February 12 was determined. On that day, Robert Vadra’s mother Maureen Vadra will also have to appear before the ED, as both Robert Vadra and Maureen Vadra are directors of Sky Light Hospitality Private Limited.
The court maintained the stay order on the arrest of Robert Vadra in the case granted earlier. When Rajdeepak Rastogi requested that arrest should be allowed if there is a need to do so, the court said if such need arises an application can be filed with the court to obtain permission.
The case pertains to a land deal in which Sky Light Hospitality had allegedly purchased a plot in Bikaner, Rajasthan. The ED had registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in this matter in 2015, after the state police had filed FIRs based on a complaint by local tehsildar alleging forgery in the deal. It is alleged that Skylight had sold 69.55 hectares of land to Allegeny Finlease at ₹7.41 lakh per hectare, but it had purchased the land at the rate of ₹ 1 lakh per hectare. Mahesh Nagar, an authorised representative of several companies linked to Vadra, had bought and sold land on behalf of Skylight Hospitality.
The amount used by Allegeny Finlease to buy the land came from a loan given by Bhushan Power and Steel company (BSPL). In the same year, BSPL was granted an exemption of ₹500 crore by the Income Tax Settlement Commission (ITSC), a decision which has come under the scanner.
The state government had cancelled the transfer of 374.44 hectares of land sold in various deals after it was found that land allotments were made in the name of fake persons. It is alleged that land meant to expand army’s firing range was grabbed by the land mafia through forged and fabricated documents.