NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has slammed the erstwhile Congress’ Hooda government in Haryana for helping builders acquire huge tracts of farmlands at prices much lower than market rates, by threatening acquisition by the state at throwaway prices. The then government was completely dedicated benefiting to one family and now the state is facing what they have done in past.
This was mala fide exercise of power and a fraud, the court said. A two-judge bench comprising justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and UU Lalit directed the CBI to recover all the money due to the state and file chargesheets against erring officials.
The judgment assumes significance as the court had summoned the Dhingra Commission report indicting Robert Vadra, brotherin-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, for making unlawful profits of Rs 50.5 crore from a land deal in Haryana without spending a single penny.
The legality of the Dhingra Commission report, first published in ET, and its subsequent report are hanging fire before the Punjab and Haryana high court. The SC bench has urged the high court to decide the dispute pertaining to the Dhingra Commission report within two months.
“About 400 acres, whose market value at that time was above Rs 4 crore per acre, totalling about Rs 1,600 crore, was purchased by… criminal conspirators from innocent land owners for only about Rs 100 crore. Thus, some politicians who were also important functionaries… officers and their agents caused a wrongful loss of Rs 1,500 crore to land owners of Village Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula of District Gurgaon and corresponding wrongful gain to themselves,” the SC bench said.
The top court demanded to know who had cornered the rest and unjustly enriched themselves, the bureaucracy or the builders. It also slammed “mindless acquisition” of agricultural land warning it would lead to eventual food shortage, besides displacing huge numbers from their homes and hearths.
“We direct authorities to recover every single paise and make it over to the state government. A complete investigation in the transactions… shall be undertaken by CBI.”
The state may revisit its policy of change of land use and giving colonisation licences in respect of land which was the subject of acquisition, the court said. It ordered that all the land the Haryana government had acquired should now be vested with Huda, free from all encumbrances.
SC also said all release orders in favour of builders were quashed and all licences transferred to Huda. Sale deeds/other agreements in favour of the builder were also quashed.
The builder will not be entitled to recover the consideration paid to the owners but will be entitled to reimbursement to the extent of his expenses from the state. The landowners who have not received compensation will receive it.