New Delhi: Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka on Wednesday said that an independent probe monitored by the Punjab and Haryana High Court or the Supreme Court should be conducted into the alleged illegal land deals of Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
In a debate with senior lawyer KTS Tulsi on CNN-IBN, Khemka insisted the deals were illegal under several acts and alleged the Rs 7.5 crore cheque in the deal was 'fictitious'. "Vadra and company might have fudged the balance sheet of Skylight Hospitality Pvt Ltd," he said.
Tusli, however, refuted the allegations and said "what Vadra did is a normal business practice. He carried out a valid sale deal".
While the IAS officer agreed that the acquisition might be legal, he alleged that the sale was a sham. "This is a classic case of benami transaction," he added.
Earlier in the day, CNN-IBN accessed documents that reveal that Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Vadra did buy land from Omkareshwar properties using a 'fictitious' cheque.
Documents accessed by CNN-IBN show Khemka claimed in his response to a Haryana government inquiry report that Vadra, through his firm Skylight Hospitality, bought 3.5 acres land from Omkareshwar properties in February 2008 and in its filings with the government stated that money had been paid in full for the transaction.
This comes even as CNN-IBN has learnt that Skylight Hospitality did not have money to pay for the land in its accounts. Khemka in his report had said that the money was paid after receiving an advance from DLF, but that too through another one of Vadra's companies.
An amount of Rs 7.5 crore was claimed as paid by Vadra's Skylight Hospitality with the cheque number 607251 of Corporation Bank, New Delhi. CNN-IBN investigations reveal that the cheque did not belong to any bank account of the Skylight Hospitality.
On February 12, 2008, a sale deed was registered by the Haryana government for the sale of 3.5 acre of land from Omkareshwar properties to Skylight Hospitality Private Limited. Investigations reveal that the cheque did not belong to Skylight Hospitality but to another Vadra company - the Corporation Bank account of Skylight Realty.
Six months later, the payment of Rs 7.95 crore was finally made on August 9, 2008 through cheque number 978951 from the Corporation Bank account of Sky Light Hospitality to Omkareshwar. Khemka in his report says the money was paid after receiving an advance from DLF - which legal experts say is a 'benami transaction'.
Corporation Bank, though, has denied giving Vadra a loan. "We don't have the documents on which the report has been placed. If we had given the loan to Mr Vadra, then there was no problem in admitting it. Probably the balance sheet which I have seen in the news report does not say that the Vadra company has taken the loan. There is some sort of confusion," Corporation Bank Chairman Ajay Kumar had said in October 2012.
There has been no statement from Vadra, but his lawyer Tulsi has said there is nothing benami about the deal. "In this case it can't be said to be a benami because there is no allegation that DLF provided for the funds at the time on the date of the sale deed. If the sale is valid and the cheque according to the sale deed itself is handed over and is not encashed is not presented perhaps, we do not know what the facts are, but if the cheque is not presented it doesn't amount to a fraud. The buyer has a right to receive the consideration and to encash the check within a month, within 2 months, within 6 months and ask for another cheque if its validity has expired, but it can't be a fraud," Tulsi said.
Earlier in an interview with CNN-IBN's Karan Thapar, Khemka had said, "The evidence is that he had only Rs 1 lakh in his account and against the Rs 1 lakh in the account, he could not have issued the cheque for Rs 7.5 crore and if the cheque was issued, if that were true, and if the transactions was at the arms length principal, then why wouldn't Omkareshwar Property deposit the cheque? Therefore, the word used was it is 'likely' that a fictitious cheque number was shown by the company."