Bikaner land deal: Rajasthan HC tells official of Vadra-linked firm to appear before ED

Representative of Skylight Hospitality, a firm linked to Robert Vadra, to appear before Enforcement Directorate in connection with Bikaner land deal.

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Jodhpur, Dec 17: Rejecting his plea for relief, the Rajasthan High Court has directed a representative of Skylight Hospitality, a firm linked to Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra, to appear before Enforcement Directorate (ED) which had summoned him in connection with a controversial land deal in Bikaner.

The representative had move the high court challenging the summons issued by the ED to him earlier this year.

Robert Vadra

Dismissing his plea, Justice P K Lohra said last evening that the representative of Skylight Hospitality will have to appear before ED but allowed the presence of his lawyer "at a reasonable distance" during questioning.

Opposing the plea, ED's counsel Rajeev Awasthi argued that the summons was issued to a specific person and he is supposed to appear before the agency instead of challenging the same in the court. The (ED) had issued the notice to the firm under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The probe is related to the purchase of 275 bigha land allegedly by the company in the Kolayat area of the border town of Bikaner in Rajasthan. The central probe agency had registered a criminal case of money laundering in this case last year on the basis of FIRs filed by the state police after the local tehsildar had made a complaint.

The ED has not mentioned the name of Vadra or any company linked to him in the FIR but it named some state government officials and some e "land mafia".

While filing the case, it had also taken cognisance of reports that had referred to a firm allegedly linked to Vadra which had purchased some of these Bikaner located lands.

Vadra has denied any wrongdoing even as Congress has maintained that the action is "sheer political vendetta". Rajasthan government had in January last year cancelled the mutation (transfer of land) of 374.44 hectares of land, after the land department claimed to have found that the allotments were made in the names of "illegal private persons".

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The tehsildar had said in the complaint that the government land in 34 villages of Bikaner, to be used for expanding the army’s firing range in the area, was "grabbed" by the land mafia by preparing "forged and fabricated documents" in connivance with government officials.

ED suspects that huge amounts of money was laundered in this case by people buying land at cheap rates through forged documents.

The state government had, while cancelling the mutations, said these were not issued by the Commissioner, Colonisation, Bikaner. The state police had also filed charge sheets in 18 cases in a court in Kolayat last year.

PTI

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