NEW DELHI: Robert Vadra was again in the eye of a storm with Justice Dhingra Commission coming out with a report on his controversial land deals which Congress dubbed as a "campaign of slander and vilification" while BJP hailed it insisting that the "rule of law is being upheld".
Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala sought to take the sting out of the Commission report, contending that since it had not summoned either Vadra or former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda under relevant sections of the Commission of Inquiry Act, adverse comments cannot be made against them and they cannot be condemned without being heard.
"No one can be condemned unheard is a basic doctrine of natural justice. The Commission of Inquiry Act contains this fundamental principle. The Act says no adverse finding can be given against any person without giving an opportunity of being heard," he told reporters.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, however, said the Modi government believed in "upholding the law" and takes a dim view of any violation even as it rejected the Congress' charge that it was running a campaign of "slander and vilification" against its chief Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law.
"Commission on Inquiry is a legal process. It is not proper to comment without knowing its contents. I will say only one thing that BJP government treats the violation of law as a violation and it is our job to uphold the law.
"Nobody is allowed (to do so) and we don't do anything out of political malice. It is a fair government. It is Congress' monopoly to work out of political malice. It is not a BJP's work. We work on merit," he told reporters.
Hooda termed the report as a "political vendetta and witch hunt" by the BJP government, while Vadra's counsel said his client is innocent and natural justice was violated as neither he nor his representatives were ever summoned by the panel.
Vadra's lawyer Suman Khaitan said holding anything against him or his company without giving them a chance to be heard went against the principles of natural justice.
"If the government feels that my client is a bad man and they have a "jawai babu" report, why are they hiding the report. Let the report come out," he told reporters, daring the government to make it public.
BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli also said that the terms of reference were about entitles and not individuals and wondered why Vadra is not speaking and the entire Congress party coming to his defence even before the report is made public.
"Are they worried that something objectionable would come out?," he asked.
"Congress party's response is confused and they are trying to give legal jargon to hide behind a political problem and fraud," Kohli said.
BJP's national secretary Shrikant Sharma said Congress is afraid because it believes that it has been caught out and so it is "politicising" this case of corruption.
Vadra's lawyer claimed his client's company made all payments "totally legally" and "never sought any favours from any government department whatsoever".
"It is not a Vadra report. All transactions are recorded.
We have paid Rs 8 crore in capital gains. We have paid full stamp duty. Let's wait for the report, don't condemn me like that. Wait for the report and we will answer," he said after the judicial panel submitted its report to the Haryana government.
"We were always ready to cooperate and we have nothing to hide. For your knowledge, Dhingra Commission never summoned Mr Vadra. He never summoned any director or representative of Skylight Hospitality.
"Now you tell me, if you don't summon anybody, can you hold it against him. Isn't it breach of Section 8-B and the principles of natural justice. But to give full credit, Mr Dhingra has not said anything against my client," he said.
This was contended by the BJP spokesperson saying the probe was against an entity and not an individual and proper hearing was given to it.
"Congress seems to have made it a habit since 1975 to always blame the judiciary. Everyday one of their spokesperson is saying that let this be inquired into by a judicial Commission and when judges are enquiring, they attack the judges," Kohli said.
Surjewala had earlier said that "The sole intent is to defame, conspire and malign rather than examine the facts fairly. This shows the malintent and sinister conspiracy of Government of Haryana, of BJP and even the commission itself."
Surjewala, who was a minister in the erstwhile Hooda government, said, "The BJP governments at the Centre and in Haryana have run a political agenda of vendetta and revenge for years."
He claimed that the constitution of Dhingra Commission was a "mere cog" in that wheel of "malicious witch-hunt", propagated by BJP.
Hooda, who ruled the state for two consecutive terms, said, "The government has set up the commission to probe the land deals of only one sector...the enquiry is nothing but witch-hunting against political opponents by the BJP."
Reiterating that he gave "no undue favours" to anyone, Hooda said that the probe should be held by a sitting judge of the High Court.
BJP's Sharma said if somebody has committed a wrong, then he will have to pay the price and face the law.
"Congress is afraid because it believes that it has been caught out and so it is politicising this case of corruption.
Even in the National Herald case it made similar allegations and now both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are out on bail. On the one hand Rahul Gandhi speaks about farmers and on the other his party cheats farmers of Haryana," he alleged.
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) demanded a CBI probe into Change of Land Use (CLUs) granted during the 10 years regime of Hooda.