A notice that was issued by the BJP government in Haryana against Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra regarding his land deal with DLF Universal Ltd may not stand legal scrutiny.
The state’s Excise and Taxation Department had issued the notice to Vadra’s company, Skylight Hospitality, in October 2015 for not paying value added tax (VAT) on sale of land and “sale” of licence to M/s DLF Universal Ltd for developing a commercial project on 3.531 acres in Shikhopur (Gurgaon). However, sale of land is not covered by the Haryana VAT Act.
The government has also found that it failed to take into account the fact that consequent to the October 2012 cancellation of mutation by Ashok Khemka, then director general of Consolidation of Land Holdings, the transfer of licence never took place.
Transfer of licence requires a mutation document which, in this case, was cancelled. So though the sale deed between Skylight and DLF for the land mentions transfer of licence, DLF does not possess the licence.
Sources said the issue was discussed on Thursday at a meeting chaired by CM Manohar Lal Khattar. “It was found that the notice may not stand legal scrutiny. However, it is yet to be seen how the government wriggles out of this goof-up,” an official privy to the meeting told The Indian Express.
Roshan Lal, Additional Chief Secretary (Excise and Taxation Department), said, “I would not like to say anything on the issue since the matter is sub-judice”.
“The grounds mentioned in the notice do not exist. The sale of land is not covered under VAT, because the entire stamp duty has already been paid. The sale of licence never happened… You should wait for the HC verdict,” said Rajesh Khurana, chartered accountant, Skylight.
Vadra’s company moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court in March, challenging the notice. The case will come up for hearing Tuesday.
Documents reveal that the Town and Country Planning Department granted “permission for transfer of licence” to Skylight in favour of M/s DLF Universal Ltd on April 3, 2012. However, it was only an “in-principle” approval. Skylight had to fulfill certain conditions within 90 days, after which the licence could have been transferred. Records reveal that the licence was never transferred.
Haryana Excise and Taxation Commissioner Shyamal Mishra did not respond to calls and text messages.