Top Court On CBI Probe Into Bihar Shelter Home Case

Over 30 girls were raped at the shelter run allegedly by Brajesh Thakur, the key accused.

New Delhi: 

The Supreme Court on Thursday termed “very disturbing” the facts emerging from CBI’s probe into the Muzzafarpur shelter home case and asked the Bihar Police to probe the alleged recovery of cartridges from former state minister Manju Verma and her husband.

Manju Verma had resigned as the Social Welfare Minister in the Bihar government following the Muzzafarpur case where several girls were raped and sexually abused, after it came to light that her husband Chandrashekhar Verma had spoken to prime accused Brajesh Thakur several times between January and June this year.

The top court, which observed that CBI’s probe in the case seemed to be on track, said it was not clear whether illegal arms were also recovered from the possession of the Vermas and the matter needed to be looked into by the local police.

Taking note of the facts emerging from the two status reports filed by the CBI, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said that Thakur appeared to be a “very influential” man, as his neighbours were scared to file any complaint against him despite the fact that they had heard screams of girls from the shelter home.

The bench said “it has also come on record that one Chandrashekhar Verma and his wife Manju Verma have been in possession of illegal ammunition of a fairly large quantity. It is not clear whether they were in possession of illegal arms as well. The status report mentions that an FIR has been lodged against Chandrashekhar Verma and Manju Verma.”

“The affairs of these two need to be looked into, particularly with regard to their procurement and possession of illegal ammunition and availability of illegal weapons, if any. We request the local police in the state of Bihar to look into this aspect with some degree of seriousness,” it said. 

The bench took note of the fact that the state’s social welfare department had shifted some girls from the shelter home run by Brajesh Thakur in March this year, but the purpose of shifting was not clear.

“The status report also mentions that some girls were transferred on March 20, 2018 by social welfare department from the shelter home, which is the subject matter of present investigation by the CBI,” it said.

It is not clear why these girls were transferred out, particularly when the report given by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) about the status of the shelter home was known to the state in May, the bench observed.

“The transfer seems to suggest that the social welfare department of the Government of Bihar was aware of certain unsavoury activities in the shelter home and that may have been the reason for transfer of the victim girls,” it said.

“The CBI should seize the record of the social welfare department in this regard and carry out the investigation,” it said and asked Bihar to file an affidavit indicating the circumstances necessitating the transfer of these girls.

Regarding Thakur, the bench said “it appears that the person in-charge of the NGO ‘Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti’, Brajesh Thakur, is a very influential person and people in the neighbourhood are scared of him and not able to make any complaint against him.”

“In fact it has come out that people in the neighbourhood have heard screaming by the girls in the shelter home but they did not bring it to the notice of anybody because of the apparent terror of Brajesh Thakur. The CBI will need to look into the antecedents, connections and influence of Brajesh Thakur,’ the bench said.

Referring to the CBI’s reports, it said the NGO had received around Rs 4.5 crore worth of funds from the state over a period of 10 years and 35 vehicles were purchased.

“The other assets of the NGO or Brajesh Thakur do not appear to be very clear. It is necessary, in our opinion, that the Income Tax Department should look into the income and assets of Brajesh Thakur and indeed of the NGO Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti,” it said.

“The CBI team should request the Chief Commissioner/Commissioner having jurisdiction in the area to look into this matter and investigate the affairs of the NGO and of Brajesh Thakur from the income tax angle,” it said.

The apex court said that issues concerning the shelter home was of an “extremely serious nature” and requires a “greater in-depth scrutiny” by the CBI.

It also directed the agency to file their next status report of investigation before it in a sealed cover within four weeks.

Earlier during the hearing, the bench said it had perused the two status reports filed by the CBI and the facts indicated that what had happened was “very disturbing”.

“There is much more into it, than what meets the eyes,” Justice Lokur told Attorney General K K Venugopal.

“It needs to be looked into very, very carefully,” it said, adding, “You (CBI) continue with your investigation”.

During the hearing, advocate Aparna Bhat, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, said the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) was assisting CBI on the psycho-social and rehabilitation issues of the victims and they may be permitted to complete the task by first week of October.

The bench said other agencies like TISS, should allow the CBI and NIMHANS for the time being to carry out their work.

The court has posted the matter for hearing on October 25.

Over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the shelter home run by Thakur and the issue was highlighted in an audit report submitted by TISS to the state’s social welfare department.

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Karti Chidambarmam “Misusing” Freedom To Travel Abroad: Probe Agency

The top court had on July 23 allowed Karti Chidambaram to visit the UK. (File)

New Delhi: 

Karti Chidambaram, son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, has been “blatantly misusing” the liberty granted to him by the court to travel abroad, using it to protract investigations, Enforcement Directorate informed the Supreme Court in a response on Monday.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud fixed for Tuesday, hearing Karti Chidambaram’s plea for permission to travel to the UK

ED, represented by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, has filed its response alleging that Karti Chidambaram, who faces proceedings in the Aircel-Maxis and alleged that he had been “blatantly misusing” the liberty granted by court to travel abroad.

The probe agency added this freedom was “blatantly and brazenly hampering, subverting, jeopardising and protracting” the investigation pending against him in the Aircel Maxis Case, which the agency has to complete in six months.

The agency also said: “The Petitioner/applicant during this period of 6 months has remained unavailable for investigation for a total number of 51 days due to his foreign visits.

The reply filed by Rajeev Sharma, Deputy Director of ED, said: “Whenever he was confronted with the documents, he showed his irritation, sometimes anger and then conveniently avoided to answer the questions on one pretext or the other.”

Karti Chidambaram has also failed to provide the documents required during investigations as per schedule and in the circumstances, an effective investigation can take place only during his custodial integration, the agency said.

The top court had on July 23 allowed Karti Chidambaram to visit the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America from July 23 to 31, making it clear that he has to abide by the conditions imposed by it in an earlier similar order.

The bench had said that he will have to surrender his passport with the ED when he returns from his visit.

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Former Donald Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort Pleads Guilty In Robert Mueller Probe

Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States (Reuters)


U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will plead guilty to two criminal counts as part of a deal with prosecutors on Friday, court documents showed in what could be a blow to Trump in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-running probe of Russian election meddling.

As part of the deal, Manafort, 69, could be required to cooperate with Mueller’s probe into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Details of the deal were likely to emerge in a plea agreement hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) in federal court. Manafort would become the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller’s investigation, which has cast a shadow over Trump’s presidency.

It remains unclear if the deal will include Manafort’s cooperation with Mueller’s probe, dealing a blow to Trump ahead of congressional elections on Nov. 6.

Another approach would be for Manafort to plead guilty without cooperating in hopes of a presidential pardon. Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort, but the president has not publicly ruled it out.

Manafort will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Five other charges were dropped in the new court filing.

A Virginia jury convicted Manafort last month on bank and tax fraud charges.

Jury selection was due to begin on Monday in a second trial on charges including conspiring to launder money, conspiring to defraud the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering.

Manafort’s decision could be a blow to Trump, who last month praised his former aide for not entering into an agreement with prosecutors, as the president’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen had.

On Twitter on Aug. 22, Trump wrote: “Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal. Such respect for a brave man!”

According to the court filing, the charge of conspiracy against the United States includes money laundering, tax fraud, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, and acting as an unregistered lobbyist for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. The second count, for conspiracy to obstruct justice, concerns attempts to tamper with witnesses related to Manafort’s foreign lobbying.

Manafort’s conviction in Alexandria, Virginia, last month was at a trial arising from Mueller’s investigation. Trump has denied colluding with the Russians and the Russians have denied interfering.

Rick Gates, Manafort’s former business partner and the campaign’s deputy chairman, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his cooperation, later testifying against Manafort in Virginia. Gates may have been a prosecution witness in his Washington trial as well.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now representing Trump in the Russia probe, told Reuters on Friday that a guilty plea to avoid a second trial would not crush Manafort’s chances of receiving an eventual presidential pardon.

“It’s not going to hurt him if he pleads guilty. Usually it helps you get a pardon down the road. It shows you’ve admitted your guilt,” he said on Friday before a deal was announced. He declined further comment until after the hearing.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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In Pakur, Probe Team Set To Investigate Reports Of Conversion

The SIT was formed on the directive of the state government. (Representational)

Pakur, Jharkhand: 

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been constituted by the Pakur district police to probe reports of alleged conversion through allurement, a senior police officer Thursday said.

The SIT was formed on the directive of the state government on the basis of a report of conversion through “allurement or in the garb of social services” in tribal-dominated Santhal Paragana region including Pakur district, Superintendent of Police, Shailendra Prasad Barnwal, said.

He said the SIT was set up on Wednesday to look into the matter. It would be headed by the Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Pakur.

The SIT would have all Inspector rank officers and officer-in-charge of various police stations of the district, he said.

Barnwal said SIT will identify the forces allegedly engaged in conversion after consulting with all police station officers-in-charge of the district and common people.

“We will initiate action against the identified persons or organisations as per provisions, if found guilty during the probe,” the police officer said.

Recently, the intelligence agencies had stumbled upon some audio clip, in which two persons “were in conversion to target poor Santhal and primitive Pahariya tribe people for conversion by offering them money, cattle etc,” the SP said.

The district administration of Pakur was alerted after the audio clip was brought to the notice of the government.

Meanwhile, Jharkhand state unit vice-president of Hindu Jagran Manch and Janjati Suraksha Manch National Co-cordinator, Dr Rajkishore Hansdah demanded immediate action to check conversion or they would be forced to launch an agitation against it. 

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File Report On Probe Against K Palaniswami In Corruption Case: Court

A complaint was filed against K Palaniswami in award of contracts. (File)


The Madras High Court Wednesday directed the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption to file a report on the day-to-day preliminary investigation conducted by it against Chief Minister K Palaniswami on a corruption complaint filed against him in award of contracts.

It asked the state government whether DVAV officials have concluded that no offence was made out in the corruption plaint filed by DMK organising secretary and Rajya Sabha MP R S Bharathi.

Passing an interim order, Justice A D Jagadish Chandira directed the DVAC to file the comprehensive report on the day-to-day preliminary investigation conducted by it.

“So, your officers have come to the conclusion that there is no cognizable offence made out,” the judge asked while hearing the matter.

“Let the report be filed in a sealed cover and also explain why the complainant has not been inquired by the investigating officer,” Justice Jagadish Chandira said.

The judge passed the interim order on the plea by Bharathi who alleged that Palaniswami had abused his power and allotted highway projects worth Rs 3,500 crore to his relatives and ‘benamis’.

Bharathi wanted the court to direct the DVAC to conduct a preliminary inquiry and register an FIR.

On Tuesday, the DMK leader moved an additional plea seeking to transfer the probe to an independent investigating team, since DVAC was technically under the chief minister.

When the plea came up on Wednesday, senior counsel for petitioner N R Elango submitted that the cost of projects that would ordinarily not exceed Rs 8 to 10 crore has escalated to Rs 21 crore and above.

Citing a manual of the World Bank for projects funded by it, Elango said according to the document “the tender issuing authorities should not have any conflict of interest with the firms to which such contracts are awarded”.

Refuting the allegation, advocate general Vijay Narayan submitted that the chief ministers son got married to the daughter of one such contractor only in 2014. But the contractor is in the business since 1991.

“In view of such marriage they cannot become ineligible to get such contracts,” Narayan contended.

When the judge raised a specific allegation of crony capitalism and “what kind of investigation has been done on the allegations of cost escalation? the DVAC refuted it.

“There is no enhancement of cost at all. These are all ‘annuity contract’ projects completely monitored by the World Bank. At this stage court must only see whether process of law is followed,” Narayan said.

Technically the plea has become infructuous since DVAC has completed the preliminary investigation and forwarded its report to the Vigilance Commissioner, Narayan submitted.

When the judge asked if the DVAC officers have come to a conclusion that no offence was made out, he said a report has been sent to the commissioner based on the inquiry.

“The commissioner can reject the report or direct us to proceed further. It is up to the commissioner.”

The judge posted the plea to September 17 for further hearing.

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Probe Agency Files Chargesheet Against Pearls Group In Rs 45 Crore

The Enforcement Directorate started the probe after lodging an FIR in 2015.

New Delhi: 

The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday filed a charge sheet against the Pearls Group and its chief Nirmal Singh Bhangoo in connection with a ponzi scam involving over Rs 45,000 crore, which was collected allegedly by two companies from 5.5 crore investors.

Apart from Nirmal Singh Bhangoo, who is in judicial custody, his three colleagues and other persons have also been named in the ED chargesheet filed in a special court under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). 

The ED, which started the probe after lodging an FIR in 2015 based on the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) case, had in January attached Australia-based assets of the Pearls Group and Nirmal Singh Bhangoo worth Rs 472 crore.

The CBI had arrested Nirmal Singh Bhangoo and his three colleagues in 2016 following allegations that they collected funds from investors in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and other states through ponzi schemes, in the name of real estate projects. 

Nirmal Singh Bhangoo, his companies PACL and PGFL, as well as his lakhs of commission agents were accused of cheating 5.5 crore investors on the pretext of sale and development of agriculture land. 

The companies made false allotments of land to investors. However, the companies never owned any land in their own name.

Nirmal Singh Bhangoo and his companies promised the investors that allotment would be done on their investment between 90 and 270 days and if not, handsome returns would be paid. 

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U.S. To Probe India’s Mahindra Over Fiat Chrysler Jeep Complaint

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) said in a statement that it was launching a patent-related investigation into the Indian automaker’s ROXOR vehicle.

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Mahindra had said Fiat Chrysler’s patent violation complaint against the company is without merit

A U.S. regulator said on Tuesday it would launch an investigation into an off-road utility vehicle produced by Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd following a complaint by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV that it infringed upon the intellectual property rights of its Jeep design.

Mahindra Thar

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) said in a statement that it was launching a patent-related investigation into the Indian automaker’s ROXOR vehicle.

Also Read: Mahindra Takes Fiat Chrysler To Court In The United States Over Breach Of Contract

The ITC said the complaint was related to the import and sale in the United States of certain motorized vehicles and components that Fiat Chrysler had alleged infringed on its trademarks. The agency said it would aim to complete its probe within 45 days.

The ITC has indicated it will begin an investigation of Fiat Chrysler’s complaint and that it will also be conducting a 100-day expedited consideration of the 2009 agreement and its effect on the investigation, said Rich Ansell, vice president of marketing, Mahindra Automotive North America.

Fiat Chrysler could not immediately be reached for comment.

Last month, Mahindra said that Fiat Chrysler had filed a patent violation complaint with the ITC against the company and called the complaint without merit.

Mahindra said that it and its North American unit had filed a public interest statement with the ITC and had begun proceedings in a Michigan court to enforce a design agreement that it had executed with Fiat Chrysler in 2009.

Mahindra was seeking an injunction against Fiat Chrysler from proceeding with the complaint, it added.


Fiat Chrysler had not made a monetary claim in the complaint but was seeking to block Mahindra Automotive from importing any parts or components into the United States that infringe upon Fiat Chrysler’s intellectual property rights, it said.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Days After Trump Blames Social Media, US To Probe Tech Firms For ‘Stifling’ Free Speech

Donald Trump accused big tech firms of censoring and suppressing conservative voices (File)


The US Justice Department said Wednesday it would probe social media giants over concerns over competition and “stifling the free exchange of ideas.”

The announcement comes days after President Donald Trump accused big technology firms of censoring and suppressing conservative voices, allegations strongly denied by the companies.

A Justice Department statement said Attorney General Jeff Sessions “has convened a meeting with a number of state attorneys general this month to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.”

The brief statement, which came at the conclusion of a Senate hearing including top executives of Facebook and Twitter, offered no clues on whether officials were considering an antitrust investigation or some form of regulatory action.

Tech industry analysts say there is little evidence internet firms are filtering content for political reasons, but that the companies would have constitutional protections against any government effort to regulate their algorithms.

On Tuesday, Federal Communications chairman Ajit Pai said Silicon Valley firms to provide more transparency about how they operate, raising the possibility of tougher regulations for technology firms.

“We need to seriously think about whether the time has come for these companies to abide by new transparency obligations,” Pai said in a blog post.

Pai offered no specific proposals, but appeared to echo concerns raised by Trump, who claimed tech firms may be biased against conservatives.

“Consumers interact with these digital platforms on a daily basis. We get our news from them. We interact with our family and friends on them,” Pai wrote.

Trump last week issued a warning to Google, Facebook and Twitter to “be careful” but stopped short of calling for regulation.

Twitter chief Jack Dorsey rejected any suggestion of political bias in comments prepared for a House of Representatives hearing Wednesday.

“Twitter does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules,” Dorsey said in his written testimony.

“We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our rules impartially.”

Google and Facebook have made similar points.

Daniel Castro of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said the intent of the statement was not clear but that the statement was worrisome.

“Social media platforms have the right to determine what types of legal speech they will permit on their platforms,” Castro told AFP.

“The federal government should not use the threat of law enforcement to limit companies from exercising this right. In particular, law enforcement should not threaten social media companies with unfounded investigations for booting white nationalists like Richard Spencer off their platforms.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Supreme Court Dismisses Plea For CBI Probe On Lalu Yadav Land For Railway Job Scam

The top court said the plea is not maintainable under Article 32 of the Constitution (File)

New Delhi: 

The Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea seeking a direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for registration of a fresh case against former Union Minister Lalu Prasad and others in the “land for railway job scam” on Tuesday.

The top court said that the petitioner, claiming to be a whistle-blower of the scam, can approach the appropriate forum for the relief and the plea is not maintainable under Article 32 of the Constitution, under which an individual may seek redressal for the violation of their fundamental rights.

A bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said the present petition cannot be entertained under Article 32 and he can approach the high court with his grievances.

Senior advocate CU Singh, appearing for petitioner Vankatesh Kumar Sharma, said that direction should be issued to constitute an SIT to inquire into the acts of commission and omission against the Director CBI and the director of prosecution CBI with respect to the complaint of the petitioner dated April 19, 2017.

He said that as per the CBI manual, the director has to include all the allegations in the complaint case in the FIR but the averments with regard to “land for railway jobs” were deliberately not recorded and only the second averments with respect to IRCTC scam was recorded.

“We are more liberal these days in entertaining petitions filed under Article 32 of the Constitution. Why can’t you go to high court. Can’t the high court decide these issues,” the bench said.

Mr Singh said that there are wider aspects which relate to the CBI director.

“Sorry, we are not inclined to entertain this petition. You can easily approach the high court with your grievances,” the bench said.

Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the centre, said that CBI director is appointed by Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of India and the person so appointed has preferably not less than two years tenure.

Mr Singh countered the arguments of the Attorney General and said that he contention is not on the appointment but the action of CBI director.

“The question here is can the CBI director violate the code,” he said and added that while registering the FIR, the entire complaint has to be exact verbatim.

The AG said that investigation in the IRCTC scam is over and the accused, Lalu Prasad and others, are in jail.

The bench said that even if the CBI director has violated the code, the petition can very well can be entertained by the high court and even trial court.

Mr Singh said that fraud has been committed and the complaint was not reproduced in its entirety even after lands were taken in the name of sons, daughters to given railway job.

The bench dismissed the petition but granted liberty to the petitioner to approach the appropriate forum for availing remedy, if any.

The petitioner had also sought direction to the CBI director to register a fresh case and investigate how the accused of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) scam could acquire huge movable and immovable properties beyond their known sources of income.

Mr Sharma’s plea sought direction to the Centre to initiate departmental enquiry against CBI director and director of prosecution for their acts of commission, omission and violation of CBI manual.

It also sought recall grant of ‘fixed tenure’ to the present DCBI, ED and CVC for their failure to discharge their duties in terms of the categorical directions of this court.

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Gurgaon Police Seek Government Nod To Probe FIR Against Bhupinder Singh Hooda

Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that the BJP government is pursuing “vendetta politics”.


The Gurgaon police have sought permission from the state government to probe the case registered against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda over a land deal which allegedly favoured Congress leader Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra.

Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Robert Vadra were booked by police on Saturday in connection with alleged irregularities in the deal.

The BJP had made the deal a major issue in the the 2014 election, alleging that Robert Vadra made crores of rupees with the connivance of the then Hooda-led Congress government.

Under the amended Prevention of Corruption Act, the police have to get approval of the ‘competent authority’ before investigating an FIR against a public servant, a senior official said Tuesday.

The Gurgaon police wrote to the state government on September 1 for this permission to investigate Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Gurgaon Police Commissioner K K Rao said Tuesday.

He said once the permission is given the investigation will start.

The FIR against Robert Vadra, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and two companies — DLF and Onkareshwar Properties — was registered at Kherki Daula police station in Gurgaon.

The accused were booked under Sections 420 (cheating), 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 467 (forgery), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of the IPC and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Bhupinder Singh Hooda said on Tuesday in Jaipur that the BJP government is pursuing “vendetta politics”.

The Congress leader claimed the case has been lodged to divert attention from the Rafale fighter aircraft deal.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, however, said the BJP government is committed to uprooting corruption.

“The FIR registered on Saturday will be thoroughly examined and investigated,” Mr Khattar had told reporters in Gurgaon on Sunday.

The FIR was lodged after a complaint was received from one Surinder Sharma, a resident of Nuh.

It said Robert Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality Pvt Ltd purchased 3.5 acre of land in Gurgaon’s sector 83 from Onkareshwar Properties for Rs 7.50 crore in 2008, when Bhupinder Singh Hooda was the chief minister and also held the portfolio of Town and Country Planning Department.

Later, Skylight Hospitality sold this land to realty major DLF for Rs 58 crore after procuring commercial licence for the development of the colony with the influence of Hooda, Sharma alleged.

In turn, DLF was favoured by the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government with permission to develop another piece of land, it was alleged.

The Khattar-led BJP government set up a one-man commission headed by Justice (retd) S N Dhingra in 2015 to probe the grant of licences for developing commercial colonies in Gurgaon’s sector 83.

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