NEW DELHI (TIP): Robert Vadra’s land deals in Haryana have turned murkier with new evidence suggesting hard cash transactions were made in the guise of a property purchase. A Headlines Today investigation has unearthed documents which raise suspicion over the authenticity of Vadra’s land deals and the validity of the clean chit given to him by a three-member probe panel appointed by the Haryana government in October last year. Between 2005 and 2006, Vadra struck four land deals with one agriculturist – Harbans Lal Pahwa – buying a total of 46 acres land in Amipur village in Faridabad district, only to sell it back to Pahwa at a premium five years later.
Vadra signed the land deals overlooking the Haryana Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1972, which states that one person or family can buy a maximum of 26.9 acres of agricultural land in the state. On September 8, 2005, Vadra bought 12 acres of land in Amipur village from Pahwa for over Rs 32 lakh. On January 13, 2006,he bought 19 acres from Pahwa for Rs 54 lakh. On April 14, 2006, Vadra acquired 10 more acres of land from the same land dealer for Rs 30 lakh. On April 28, 2006, Vadra’s wife Priyanka Gandhi struck a deal with Pahwa for 5 acres in Amipur for Rs 15 lakh.
Lawyer Anupam Gupta in Chandigarh said: “Ownership of the land beyond permissible limits vests in the hands of the state government. The surplus land has to be distributed among Dalits and poor.” So the extra 20 acres in Vadra’s possession belonged to the state government. Vadra did not continue with the disputed ownership of the land for long and sold it back to Pahwa for Rs 3.8 crore. Pahwa bought the land in three installments in 2010, bearing a loss of about Rs 2.5 crore. The transaction triggered suspicion about Pahwa’s connection with Vadra, and the relationship fell under scrutiny when Headlines Today dug up Vadra’s balance sheets. The investigation team came across a curious figure of Rs 1.55 crore against the name of Harbans Lal Pahwa. Documents in the possession of Headlines Today show Pahwa’s company, Carnival Intercontinental Estate Pvt Ltd, had given a loan of Rs 1. 55 crore to Vadra’s company, Skylight Hospitality. Pahwa also held a directorship in Vadra’s company, Real Earth, for over a year between February 2008 and March 2009. Former director of RBI, Vipin Malik, said there is more to the deals than meets the eye. “You are buying from agriculturist and making huge surpluses for self running into crores when you don’t have your money…the money is being lent by the same person who is buying it and who is selling it back to you… so this is a clear case of fictitious and fake transactions… this is cold cash cover up,” he said.