CHANDIGARH: The fine print of the Punjab and Haryana high court's September 3 order cancelling the auction that saw real estate major DLF being allotted 350 acres of land in Gurgaon has revealed a startling fact. A major chunk of the land in question was with DLF and its sister companies in 1991. It was acquired through an exchange with the Wazirabad village panchayat. But the high court quashed it on technical grounds.
So, it's the second time DLF has lost control of this controversial piece of land on which an 18-hole golf course and housing project was coming up. The detailed judgment, a copy of which is with TOI, observes, "Possible undertones of the entire process being initiated to favour DLF may be discernible".
The 93-page judgment has mentioned that after the land had been handed back to the panchayat by the high court, the state government acquired it for a recreational project and engaged consultant PGA Design. The company concluded that such a project could be undertaken by the government or its agencies.
The government then appointed IL&FS, a company involved with DLF in other projects, as consultants. IL&FS eventually recommended that the project be handed over to a private enterprise and laid down the procedure that should be followed. The government accepted these recommendations.
"This stage, in fact, is where the "paradigm shift" in favour of DLF took place, in our opinion, with M/s IL&FS being appointed as consultants, without any open process, but simply on a decision by the board/committee (of the government)," the judgment says.
The judges also questioned the fresh bidding process and objected to the easy arrangements made for DLF to pay for the land. "Next factor in the chain of events, which is too coincidental to our mind, is the ouster of the other two bidders at the stage of the technical bid itself," the judgment notes.
It goes on to say that although DLF paid a sum of Rs 1,703 crore for the land at Rs 4.86 crores per acre, it was allowed to pay the money over eight years in largely bi-annual installments till February 2017.
"We find it difficult to approve out rightly the perpetual transfer of a huge chunk of 350 acres of prime land falling in the heart of the National Capital Region (NCR) to a private enterprise, at a rate which, as a lump-sum sounds extremely 'credit worthy', but eventually does not even factor in the normal increase in price for a period of eight years. That is not something, which we can overlook by any yardstick, seen together with the other circumstances," the court said.