Vadra land deals pure business, PIL for publicity: PMO
In its affidavit submitted to the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, the Prime Minister's Office has termed the land deals between Robert Vadra, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law, and real estate giant DLF as "a pure business transaction" and a "matter between two individuals".
The affidavit, signed by joint secretary Dheeraj Gupta in the PMO, has been submitted in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a probe into alleged irregularities by Vadra in land deals in Haryana. It now looks likely to kick up another controversy.
The affidavit, dated Nov 24 whose copy was received by petitioner Nutan Thakur Nov 26, alleges that the charges levelled against Vadra are "false, vexatious, hearsay".
Social activist Thakur says she is "completely stumped" by the affidavit.
"This is amazing that without a probe being held into the matter, the Prime Minister's Office has decided not only to give Robert Vadra a clean chit but has also defended him vehemently," she told IANS.
The papers and documents appended with her PIL, she pointed out, had "nothing which could be contradicted".
In its response, the PMO has attacked the petitioner saying "it is ex facie obvious that the petitioner has no knowledge of the truth or otherwise of the imputations and allegations in the various news reports and articles."
It says that "the petitioner has not applied her mind nor conducted any due diligence as to the factual and legal basis of the petition" and also questions the locus standi of the petitioner.
"The petitioner is not an expert on company affairs, corporate matters, finance and economics," the PMO affidavit states.
While the "overt tone of defence of Vadra" has come as a shock,, Nutan Thakur told IANS she expected a similar but milder defence from the PMO.
"I had earlier sent a representation to them, demanding a probe into the allegations against Vadra and DLF levelled by anti-graft crusaders Arvind Kejriwal and lawyer Prashant Bushan last month but there was no response," she said.
In its three-page affidavit, the PMO said the PIL was "not in good faith" and recalled how on the primary hearing of the petition on Oct 11, counsel for the respondent - Union of India - had "raised several objections as to the maintainability of the writ petition".
It went on to allege that the PIL was "driven by a desire for publicity and seems to be actuated by political considerations rather than public interest."
The PIL was filed Oct 11 before a division bench of Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice V.K. Dixit who had given the PMO three weeks to respond.
The case came up for hearing Oct 21 and the union government was represented by the solicitor general who sought some more time to give a "written response" to the allegations levelled by the petitioner.
This was followed by the written and notarised affidavit, Nutan Thakur said.
Ashok Pandey, counsel for the social activist, said the PIL was likely to be heard by the high court Nov 29.