Bikaner land scam: Robert Vadra invokes 'not first buyer-seller' clause; ED set to quiz him in Jaipur on Tuesday

Yatish Yadav
Robert Vadra is set to face the questions over possession and sale of land by his firm Sky Light Hospitality at Gajner and Goylari in Bikaner.

New Delhi: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi's husband Robert Vadra will appear at 10:30 am in Jaipur on Tuesday before Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials in connection with the alleged Bikaner land scam.

Vadra was quizzed by ED sleuths for three days in the national capital for his alleged link with arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari and purchase of flats through benami companies. His lawyers have categorically denied any links with Bhandari and possession of any illegal foreign assets. Now, he is set to face the questions over possession and sale of land by his firm Sky Light Hospitality at Gajner and Goylari in Bikaner.

Firstpost has accessed ED's ECIR (enforcement case information report) in the case which is based on Kolayat police's 18 FIRs filed in August 2014.

"In all these FIRs the complainant has informed that the government officials/officers in league with land mafia, with a motive to grab government land, prepared forged and fabricated documents and on the basis of those forged and fabricated documents they have illegally taken possession of a large amount of government land and by selling and purchasing the said government land a huge loss of revenue has been caused to the government," the ED said.

Background of the Bikaner land

The Central government had acquired the land of as many as 34 villages in Bikaner district for the purpose of establishment of Mahajan Field Firing Range. The government paid compensation to the displaced persons of these villages and the state government also proposed for rehabilitation of the displaced persons by providing land equivalent to their acquired land in Bikaner district itself at minimum price and for which they were required to fill up the Khasra number and name of village in an application form to be deposited with the colonisation department.

Subsequently, the colonisation department was required to examine these applications and after the deposit of the price of the land through challan, the colonisation department would make allotment of land to these displaced persons. As per procedure the allotment letters were to be issued in four copies out of which one copy was to be given to the allottee, one copy to the concerned tehsil, one copy to the accounts section and one copy was kept for office records.

Thereafter, the allottee was required to move an application along with the allotment letter and other original documents pertaining to the allotment in the concerned tehsil office and after verifying the documents and their genuineness the allotted land would be transferred in favour of the allottee and recorded in his name in the revenue records.

ED's claim

ED officials claim that with a view to grab government land allotted to the displaced persons of the Mahajan Field Firing Range, since 1989 till date, the land mafia conspired with the government servants like Patwari, Girdawar and Naib Tehsildar etc. which included individuals like Jai Prakash Bagadwa, Kishore Singh, Gugan Gar, Patwari Uma Charan, Mahavir, Patwari Deepa Ram, Naib Tehsildar Fakir Mohammed and others and formed a league and planned to prepare forged and fabricated allotment letters in the name of alleged displaced persons.

"To implement their plan and commit fraud, these persons worked together and marked the vacant government land in revenue villages of Goyalari, Madh, Indoka Bala and Gajner of Tehsil Kolayat, Bikaner in collusion with Uma Charan and Mahavir (Patwaris) Deeparam, Rajendra Kumar Shandilya and Madan Gopal (Girdwars) and Fakir Mohammed (Naib Tehsildar) of Kolayat and obtained Khasra numbers of vacant government land. After obtaining this information, these persons, under a criminal conspiracy forged allotment letters of such land, in the name of such persons who were neither resident of the villages the lands of which were acquired for the Mahajan Field Firing Range nor their names were there in the list of displaced persons. Even the forged allotment letters were prepared in the name of non-existent persons," ED ECIR said.

ED officials alleged that all the accused in the case €" Jai Prakash, Ranjit Singh, Kishore Singh and Gugan Gar €" had prepared the forged and fabricated allotment letters and in league with Patwaris, Naib Tehsildar and Girdawars got the land recorded in the revenue record. The ED claims the land was subsequently sold to seven companies including Sky Light Hospitality Private Limited.

"The government land acquired on the basis of forged and fabricated documents were sold to several persons. Most of the land was ultimately transferred to the companies €" Dauphin Developers Private Limited, Sky Light Hospitality Private Limited, Allegeny Finlease Limited, Bloomingdale Resorts Private Limited, Lohiya Organic Farms and Bio Private Limited, Systematic Marketing Consultants Private Limited and Samiksha Developers Private Limited. In all, forged and fabricated letters were prepared for around 1,422 bighas of land in different Khasras of revenue villages of Goyalari, Madh, Indoka Bala and Gajner in Bikaner by these accused persons under a criminal conspiracy. They disposed of 1,372 Bighas of land out of the 1,422 bighas which was grabbed by them by getting it recorded in the revenue record on the basis of the forged and fabricated allotment letters prepared by themselves. In this manner, they had received around Rs 3.6 crore. In these transactions, all these persons have willingly and knowingly caused loss to the government and earned an undue profit of Rs.3.6 crore illegally," the ED alleged.

Vadra's counter 

Vadra claimed that his firm was neither the first seller nor the first purchaser of the land in the question. His lawyers have claimed that in all 18 FIRs neither Vadra or his firm had any concern since and it was mentioned only a bonafide subsequent purchaser and was not even named in the FIR.

"It is stated that ultimately the police officials filed a charge sheet in the aforesaid FIR (August 2014) in the year 2015 along with a supplementary charge sheet in March 2017, wherein neither the petitioner (Robert Vadra) nor the firm was an accused. In consequence, the aforesaid charge sheets being filed, it was inevitable that the petitioner's firm being only a bonafide subsequent purchaser was therefore innocent and hence not indicted/implicated in any manner for the commission of any criminal offence," Vadra's bail petition in the Patiala House court said.

Vadra's lawyers have also argued that since registration of ECIR in 2015, his firm and representatives have already cooperated with the investigation to the satisfaction of ED officials. Vadra's lawyers claimed that ED surreptitiously registered another ECIR which is not permissible in law and is a clear manifestation of an arbitrary, illegal and motivated exercise to launch nefarious persecution to harass and humiliate the petitioner in the eye of the public at large for political vendetta due to forthcoming elections in the country.

Vadra's firm Sky Light Hospitality Private Limited was incorporated in 2007 and subsequently changed to a limited liability partnership (LLP) in 2016. Vadra was the director in the company since inception and now became a partner after the company was converted to an LLP.

Regarding the 31.61 hectares in village Gajner, Vadra's lawyers said the land was allotted in February 2007 to Natha Ram of Jagatsinghpur of Bikaner (12.65 hectares out of 31.61) and to Hari Ram of same village (18.96 hectares out of 31.61). On 19 November 2007, Natha Ram sold 12.65 hectares of land to Rajinder Kumar.

"Mutation No. 120 was duly recorded for this land in favour of Rajinder Kumar. Hari Ram acting through GPA Gugan Gar sold 18.96 hectares of land comprised in Khasra No. 711/499 in the revenue estate of village Gajner in favour of one Kishore Singh Shekhawat. That in connection with its business, the firm (Sky Light Hospitality) through its authorised power of attorney holder Mahesh Nagar purchased the lands measuring 31.61 hectares situated at Gajner, Bikaner from Rajinder Kumar and Kishore Singh who were acting through their general power of attorney Ashok Kumar. That the land ad-measuring 37.94 hectares in village Goylari was allotted in February 2007 to Natha Ram, Hari Ram, Bhaira Ram of Rampura (16.66 hectares) and Natha Ram, Hari Ram, Bhaira Ram, Jora Ram of Jagatsinghpura Tehsil Kolayat, Bikaner (21.5 hectares). On 21.3.2007 Bhaira Ram sold 16.44 hectares to one Yogesh Agarwal.

"On 16.4.2007 Yogesh Agarwal sold this land for Rs.8.25 Lakh to jointly to Satish Goel, Babu Ram Goel, Ghanshyam Bansal, Rajinder Prasad Agarwal and Kailash Agarwal. The lands were also duly mutated in the name of Yogesh Agarwal on 20.4.2007 and subsequently in favour of Satish Goel and others on 20.8.2007. That on 11.9.2008, Ranjit Singh the power of attorney holder of one of the original allottees, Jora Ram sold 17.70 hectares of land situated in village Goyalri for Rs 4.8 lakh jointly to Satish Goel, Babu Ram Goel, Ghanshyam Bansal, Rajinder Prasad Agarwal and Kailash Agarwal. The mutation of the land admeasuring of 17.70 hectares was also entered in the name of Satish Goel and the said others on 20.9.2008," Vadra's petition said.

It further said that on 10 December 2008 Ranjit Singh sold another 3.80 hectares of land jointly to Satish Goel and Kailash Agarwal. Subsequently, 37.94 hectares at Goylari, Bikaner was purchased by the Vadra's Sky Light Hospitality through its authorised representative Mahesh Nagar from Satish Goel and others. Subsequently, Sky Light Hospitality further sold the lands at Gajner and Goylari on 23 December 2012 to Allegeny Finlease Private Limited. Vadra also claimed that in both the transactions his firm was the fourth (Goylari land) and third (Gajner land) bonafide purchaser respectively. Vadra said he had appropriate sale consideration and his firm purchased the lands on the basis of existing title and passed the same to the purchaser.

Also See: 'Truth will prevail,' says Robert Vadra on Facebook ahead of more ED questioning; to be quizzed in Bikaner land scam

'I support my family': Priyanka Gandhi tells media after dropping off Robert Vadra at Enforcement Directorate office

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