Citizens' Issues
Haryana sets up commission to probe licences to Vadra, others
The Haryana government on Thursday announced retired Delhi High Court judge, Justice S.N. Dhingra, would head a one-man commission to probe the grant of licences to Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra's company and other firms for developing commercial properties in Gurgaon's Sector 83.
 
An official spokesman said here that the commission would also probe their subsequent transfer or disposal, allegations of private enrichment, ineligibility of beneficiaries under the rules, and other connected matters.
 
"Issues concerning public importance related to the grant of licenses and alleged illegalities have come to the notice of the state government," the spokesman said.
 
Vadra's company had, after obtaining licence for developing commercial property quickly, had sold off the same land to realty major DLF for a whopping Rs.58 crore, thus making a profit of Rs.43 crore.
 
Official sources said that Vadra and others were allegedly granted favours by the then Congress government in Haryana headed by Bhupinder Singh Hooda in issuing licences to develop commercial properties in Gurgaon's Sector 83.
 
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had pointed out that Vadra's firm, Skylight Hospitality, had not submitted documents on financial adequacy. Despite that, the firm was granted a licence.
 
"The Haryana government has appointed Justice S.N. Dhingra, retired judge of the Delhi High Court, one-man Commission of Inquiry to probe the issues concerning the grant of license(s) for developing commercial colonies by the department of town and country planning, Haryana, to some entities in Sector 83, Gurgaon," the government spokesman said.
 
The commission will submit its report to the state government as soon as possible, but not later than six months from the date of its first sitting, he said.
 
It will probe the circumstances under which licenses were granted, whether the said entities were eligible for grant of licenses as per the applicable laws and rules, whether the transfer of licenses by the original licencee within a short period of time to other entities was violative of laws and rules and whether the TCPD had contemplated the transactions with reference to the loss of revenue to the government.
 
The panel will also recommend "measures to take corrective action to prevent loss of revenue to the public exchequer and also prevention of undue private enrichment at the cost of the public exchequer in such cases in the future".
 
The role of officers in grant of licences will also be looked into. Complaints against the grant of licences and the CAG report findings will form the basis of the inquiry.

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SC declines farmers plea seeking restoration of their lands
The Supreme Court Thursday declined a batch of petitions by farmers of villages located in Noida, Greater Noida and Noida Extension, neighbouring the national capital, seeking restoration of their lands which were held to be wrongly acquired by NOIDA authority by invoking the urgency clause.
 
A bench headed by Chief Justice H.L.Dattu declined the plea by the farmers who had challenged the Allahabad High Court's October 21, 2011 verdict, which, while quashing the acquisition of land by invoking the urgency clause, had instead of restoring it, enhanced compensation by 64.7 percent.
 
The high court had also directed that the farmers whose lands have been acquired would get 10 percent of developed land in proportion to their acquired land.
 
Since most of the farmers had accepted the compensation, the apex court questioned the farmers plea for the return of their acquired lands even after they had accepted compensation.
 
The court had earlier declined the Noida authority's plea challenging the Allahabad High Court's order enhancing the compensation and giving 10 percent of the acquired land to the farmers after development. 
 
Nearly 100 real estate projects by various developers are coming up on the acquired lands and nearly 1.5 lakh people have registered flats in these projects.

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DLF business conduct again found 'unfair, abusive'
Realty major DLF has been found to have indulged in "unfair and unjust" business practice again by the country's anti-trust body that, nevertheless, said it was not imposing any fine due to a Rs.630 crore penalty that had already been slapped on the company in a similar case.
 
In a 49-page order delivered on Wednesday but made available a day later, the Competition Commission of India directed DLF and its group companies to "cease and desist from indulging in the conduct which is found to be unfair and abusive" in terms of the provisions of prevailing anti-trust laws.
 
It also said that since a penalty of Rs.630 crore had already been imposed on DLF in what is referred to as the Belair's case -- as also for the same period for which the contraventions in the present cases were made -- no financial penalty was required.
 
"In view of the totality and peculiarity of the facts and circumstances, the commission does not deem it necessary to impose any penalty on the Opposite Party in these cases," said the order of the Competition Commission, chaired by Ashok Chawla.
 
Earlier, the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) had dismissed DLF's appeal against the Rs.630 crore penalty levied by the Competition Commission, finding merit in what the resident welfare association had said -- that company had abused its dominant position in the Gurgaon market.
 
As per the case filed, the two original appellants had booked an apartment each in "DLF New Town Heights" in 2008 since they had found the rates, as mentioned in the scheme's pre-launch, attractive. They were allotted one apartment each.
 
Subsequently they received reminders for payments. But they alleged it was clear that the construction work had not started and DLF was only collecting huge amounts from the allotees and buyers who had booked the apartments with them.
 
The appellants also sought cancellation of the allotments and a refund. But they were told that the only option before them was to sell the apartments. Subsequently, two years after the booking, they were told by the builder that the foundation work had been completed and that they should pay up.
 
In view of what they thought were unfair and onerous terms, the appellants sought an inquiry.
 
A third complainant had also approached the anti-trust commission alleging that DLF abused its dominant position with practices like allotment of back-to-back parking on compulsory payment of Rs.150,000, non-transparent calculation of advance payment rebate and payments toward external development charges.

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