New Delhi, Oct. 28: The Supreme Court today rejected a public interest plea for a CBI probe into allegations that Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra had benefited from controversial land deals, saying individuals couldn’t be targeted merely because of their political affiliations.
“Merely because he (Vadra) is related to a political family, you cannot call him a sinner, or things like that,” Justices H.L. Dattu and Ranjan Gogoi told petitioner M.L. Sharma, an advocate who has filed a number of PILs, one of which led to the probe into the coal block allocation controversy.
The bench also asked Sharma not to “indulge in… cheap publicity”.
The PIL had alleged that the B.S. Hooda government in Haryana violated rules to sell prime land to a company Vadra is said to be associated with to favour him because of his proximity with the Gandhi family. It said over 22,000 acres were sold to influential persons and Vadra was one of the beneficiaries.
Vadra, the PIL alleged, falsified documents and executed a series of sham transactions for 3.53 acres and pocketed a hefty sum by selling the plot to a real estate giant.
The court asked Sharma why he had focused on only one person. “Mr Sharma, even according to your own petition there are 22,000 acres of land which has been allotted illegally. If that is the case, why did you choose only one person?
“…Let us clarify that in the name of public interest litigation we are not going to allow anyone to sully the name of a particular person,” the bench said, refusing to entertain the PIL.
The bench also declined to entertain Sharma’s plea to quash an order by comptroller and auditor general Shashi Kant Sharma who, according to the petition, had cancelled an inquiry ordered by his predecessor Vinod Rai into the alleged illegal land deals.
The PIL said Rai had started an audit of licences the Haryana government had issued to developers between 2005 and 2012, including that of the company Vadra is said to be linked with.
Rai retired on May 21 this year. Shashi Kant Sharma took charge on May 22. On June 3, the PIL said, the new CAG issued a letter to stop the audit and inquiry. The PIL urged the court to direct a CBI probe into the deals or a CAG audit under the court’s supervision.
“Mr Sharma, you have been doing a good job by filing various PILs, but please don’t indulge in… cheap publicity,” Justice Dattu, who was heading the bench, observed.
“…You should channelise your energy for people who are affected by floods and are shelterless,” the bench added.
The bench had at first advised Sharma to approach Punjab and Haryana High Court, but heard him after he insisted.
Later, sensing the mood of the court, Sharma sought permission to withdraw the PIL. The bench granted his plea, but rejected his request for permission to approach the high court.