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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 19 New Delhi April 27, 2019

A Primer on the Business of Corrupt Governance

Monday 29 April 2019

by R. Khosla

On independence we gave ourselves a Constitution. The Constitution was to provide us the framework of governance. It created the judiciary and everything else that is required for the governance of the country in the interests of the “sovereign” people of India. Not that the “judiciary and everything else” did not exist before. It existed to further the interests of an alien race. Seventyone years on the situation has come full circle. The alien race has once again come to govern the people of India. That alien race is the Indian politician. The politician has subverted all institutions of the Constitution. He is above the law. The driving engine for the politician is the money to win the next election. Regretfully, a lot of votes, enough to swing the election, can be bought.

The average reader may well regard the above paragraph with scepticism but this is mainly because he has no experience of the functioning of Indian democracy and the way money is raised. Although practically every Indian has suffered at the hands of the politician and his minions some time or the other, a holistic picture eludes most Indians. It is with this aim in mind that this article has been written to show an example to the lay reader how his even fundamental rights can be suborned. The article may be a trifle long as a case study has been taken up, but it does present the whole picture. This article relates to the Y Farms Project of the Air Force Naval Housing Board as a template.

The Genesis 

The Air Force Naval Housing Board (AFNHB) as a Service Welfare Body serves the housing needs of the Naval and Air Force community. This Board was registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860 (this Act is only meant for libraries and temple trusts), with an objective to promote housing schemes as per the demand of the Naval and Air Force personnel. The AFNHB claims to have a clientele of over 18,000 allottees and by the turn of the millennium, it had completed the handing over of almost 14,000 dwelling units and farm units.

One such project of the AFNHB was the Farm unit scheme to cater to allottees who preferred a rural retirement setting. The AFNHB scheme for Farm Units was started sometime in 1995 and construction began in earnest in 1998. While the X and Z projects proceeded reasonably well, there was a problem with the Y farms scheme. A certain Daryao Singh was inducted in violation of the qualifications for developers. He neither had land nor money on offer. The AFNHB is controlled by a Board which also has the DFW (Ministry Of Defence) as a member. This Daryao Singh was inducted by the Chairman of the board who happened to be Vice-Admiral Madhvendra Singh and Vice-Admiral Sushil Kumar respectively. Daryao Singh failed to make an offer four times yet he was persisted with by Sushil Kumar. Finally he offered the current Y Farms site. The site was rejected by the Board of Officers of the AFNHB. Even so it was selected by a mysterious process of which there is no record. The land was available for Rs 40,000 to Rs 60,000 but was purchased by Daryao Singh for Rs 1,60,000 approximately. There was no board of officers to assess the value of the land which is a mandatory process. With the surplus windfall, Daryao Singh and Vice-Admiral Sushil Kumar purchased 30 acres of land each for themselves. Sushil Kumar claimed that he sold his mother’s jewellery and lands to fund the purchase. Daryao Singh had no explanation about how he came to fund the land. Daryao Singh is known to have built Sushil Kumar’s farm house. Sushil Kumar also owns two homes in Sector 21 Noida, Two flats in Ranikhet, a bungalow in the Andamans and the Farm House on over four acres of land adjoining the Y Sector. The source of funds for these purchases has not been examined. Till today there is no final accounting for the 281 acres of land acquired by Daryao Singh.

From the amount charged to the owners for the land plus next instalment, a road was supposed to be built connecting the Faridabad- Majhawali road to the farms. The road was never built. The money was not refunded either. This represented a serious breach of contract by the AFNHB as the farms were not accessible then by road and they were not accessible even 22 years later.

While work was continuing it was found that the river Jamuna was eroding the banks on which the Y site was located. Extra work had to be taken up to build the studs to prevent erosion. The scheme went into a loss of Rs 15 crores as reported in the papers when the net worth of the scheme was only Rs 17 crores. There was delay in the progress of the works.

The Political Takeover

Despite this scandal associated with Sushil Kumar, he rose to become the Chief of Naval Staff. Comes the UPA into the picture in 2004. Sushil Kumar had by now covered himself in glory as the former Navy Chief through the Barak Missile deal and he was under the CBI scanner. This was also about the time that Robert Vadra had started acquiring extensive properties in Haryana and Rajasthan and elsewhere under dubious circumstances. The proximity of the Y Farms to Greater Noida attracted his attention. Robert Vadra himself was a lightweight and nothing more than a costume jewellery maker but he was helped in these deals by the mentor of the Gandhi children, Satish Sharma. Satish Sharma put two and two together and came up with a sum of 281 acres of land that could be had if the owners were convinced to sell the land collectively at a cheap price to a builder. The builder in this case being DLF.

The President of the Owners’ Association, an Air Marshal, was roped in to sell this idea by Sushil Kumar. Unfortunately, some Service Officers saw the potential of the farms with the Greater Noida metropolis coming up nearby. This President sabotaged the Association for the next 15 years with his group of “life member” councillors. The Chief of Air Staff at that time was even obliged by Satish Sharma(?) to make an offer to the owners to give back their land to the AFNHB at original price plus nine per cent interest, obviously for resale to the DLF.

The Y Farms scheme was running shamefully when Air Marshal J.N. Burma, who was later appointed Adminstrative Member, Armed Forces Tribunal, took over as the Chairman of the AFNHB in 2006. Having inherited a problem, one would assume that the Air Marshal would work to set things right. That was not the case. Robert Vadra moved in a big way and also acquired about 500 acres in the vicinity of the Y Farms. Mahesh Nagar, his principal purchase agent, appeared in the Y Farms as well. Suddenly, some UP Government agency declared the farm units illegal and unauthorised. The identity of this UP Government agency was not revealed by Burma. It was informed by Burma that he would take up this matter at the highest political level. The CBI inquiry conducted after the departure of Air Marshal Burma found that it was merely the Secretary of Industries of the UP Government who had declared the area notified by a vague letter which was not part of any plan. Something he was not authorised to do. The issue never got resolved in the six-year tenure of Burma. On July 24, 2007 Burma assured the Residents’ Association that he would meet CM Mayawati and the Raksha Mantri. This again never happened. Why would Air Marshal Burma tell lies/use perverse application of mind to sabotage the Y Farms scheme? This may well have been because the then Air Chief Tyagi was closely associated with Satish Sharma. As events subsequently proved, Tyagi was also involved in the Agusta scam. Further funding of the Y Farms project was also stopped in 2007. How can the funding of a self-financing scheme be stopped? Thereby leaving the life savings of 280 officers and men in the lurch even till today.

Just prior to Burma taking over as the Chairman of the AFNHB, mutation of some of the farms had been cancelled by the Tehsildar through a mischievous and perverse order. Burma claimed that he was in constant touch with the Chief Secratary of UP to rectify the situation. Again nothing happened. There is no doubt that Air Marshal Burma was elevated after retirement to the post of Administrative Member of the AFT as quid pro quo for services to the family. Is it small wonder then that he would destroy the ethos and discipline of the Services in the Sukhna Scam case to save another land thief of a Corps Commander and to please the Ministry of Defence just to show up Army Chief General V.K. Singh as a vindictive man. Subsequently it became known that Lt General Rath had been a classmate of Burma. He should have recused himself. That the family and the MOD would go to any lengths to preserve their power even to the extent of treason is revealed by the leak from the PMO of a Top Secret letter laying India’s deficiency in defence bare and in the story of a “coup”. Dismantling the covert Technical Services Division, a vital and unique national asset, is another case in point. The Technical Services Division had been raised precisely for the reason the Intelligence Bureau and RAW had failed.

Additionally, the developer, Daryao Singh, had also been dismissed by the AFNHB and the developer went to the Court and got a stay order. This dismissal was engineered to cover the tracks of the large-scale defalcations and stop development on grounds of “dispute”. The matter went into arbitration and remained in arbitration for 12 years (totally against the Arbitration Charter). The first lien of the land was given illegally by the AFNHB to the developer who was just working on a turnkey basis. This lien was subsequently declared outside the terms of agreement and ultra-vires by the judgment of the Delhi High Court. It should have been apparent to any judge worth his salt that the lien was malafide. Yet it took 12 years to get this abuse of the process of Court resolved. It does not take rocket science to figure out that the judgments under the UPA were controlled by the Chief Justice giving directions from the top where the government (read family) was an interested party. The guilty personnel of the AFNHB and the Service Headquarters, who misappropriated the rights of the owners to their property in the lien case, have still not been identified or punished.

A Corrupt Series of Governments 

Letters to the Raksha Mantri, A.K. Antony, written as far back as 2007 had no effect despite the scam being worth Rs 28 crores then. Today on the basis of appreciated prices it is worth Rs 500 crores. On the outcry by the owners, a Court of Inquiry was ordered on the Y Farms project by the Air Headquarters. A presentation on this Court of Inquiry was given to the Naval Chief and Air Chief on April 24, 2007. No action was taken by either of the Service Chiefs. The Court of Inquiry was suppressed on technical grounds. It can be seen that the power of Vadra/ Sharma and successive State and Central governments over the Services Headquarters is complete. There have been 20 Service Chiefs, 10 each from the Navy and the Air Force, who could not put Humpty Dumpty together again at the Y Farms. Is it small wonder then that even the arms purchases running into billions of rupees are pre-decided based on the kick-backs offered and the QRs for the service equipment SPECIALLY written to suit the politicians? The Westland case is only a small drop in the bucket. The Rafale case was 10 times bigger. Now does the reader understand why it is absolutely necessary for a Service Chief to be appointed in a line of succession? His background can then be vetted and if he is too much of a professional with no weaknesses he can be quietly eliminated in the few years of service before he becomes the Chief. Most regretfully the BJP has continued this policy under Arun Jaitley and successive Defence Ministers. When Lt General Tejinder Singh walked into the Army Chief’s office to represent the Tatra case, he expected business as usual and he would get the signatures of a compliant Chief, perhaps for a little extra payment considering the file was held up. An incorruptible V.K. Singh came as a shock. Whoever it was in the MOD who recommended the appointment of Gen V.K. Singh as the Chief should have been shot for gumming up the works. The damage being done, typically, in line with the UPA Government’s penetration of all institutions in the country, the CBI stepped in to provide cover by filing a closure report on Tejinder Singh.

When the situation at the farms finally blew up through the exposé by Rahul Singh of Hindustan Times, a CBI inquiry was reluctantly ordered in 2012. By admission of the CBI inspector himself this inquiry was ordered by a sketchy DO letter from the Ministry of Defence which gave very little information despite the “masala” provided by Rahul Singh. For the next two years the CBI continued with the inquiry while the Farms project again went into limbo. In 2014, very predictably, the CBI filed a closure report.

The Ministry of Defence, which initiated the Inquiry, should have been the watchdog to ensure that justice was given to the Farm owners. Shockingly, at the very first hearing itself the MOD filed a “No Objection” under the UPA Government and the closure report itself was filed under the Directorship of Ranjit Sinha whom the Supreme Court was obliged to dissociate from the 2G scam investigations at a subsequent date. Daryao Singh, the developer associate of Sushil Kumar, in the meantime went on to greater glories by landing up in jail in an associated scam.

The Judicial System

In the arguments in the Court of the Special Judge, CBI, Patiala House Report U/S 173Cr PC IN RC217012A0002/2012/CBI/ACU-VI/NEW DELHI, 30 pages of arguments were given along with five pages specific to Sushil Kumar. All of it was ignored by the judge in her very subjective judgment. Such types of judgments have been described by the Supreme Court as “bizarre”. The matter was referred to before the High Court. The appeal was rejected on technical grounds. Since the petitioner wished to fight the case personally, even so he was given “free” legal aid. Even after rejecting the lawyer, the lawyer forcibly appeared in Court and said the application was not “technically” correct. I wonder if the Constitution took into account a case being technically correct before justice could be administered? These judgments had been delivered when the NDA had come to power. The inference is very clear. If high political functionaries are involved, the delivery of justice can be along expected lines. The judges work along these expected lines irrespective of the party in power. Ruling class privileges are shared across political lines.

Criminal Direction and the Police.

Notwithstanding the hurdles put up to the ownership of the Farm Units by the allottees, some persistent farm owners decided to occupy their farms. They were attacked by the “Security Agent” of the AFNHB itself. Instead of employing a certified security agency, the AFNHB employed a driver of Daryao Singh, the scamster developer. Daryao Singh had himself been ejected from the Farms by a court order and that order also included his servants. Yet the AFNHB thought fit to hand over the farms back to Daryao Singh by proxy. This driver was convicted of murder by a Saket Court in absentia. He had jumped bail and is living a life well known to the whole area of the Y Farms and surrounding villages. Two letters written to the Commissioner of Delhi Police have produced no results.

Criminal complaints against this “security agent” including assault and battery before the police have produced no results. Even FIRs were not acted upon despite taking up the matter with the Chief Minister of UP and the IGP Range, Meerut. Reminders despatched by courts also failed to produce results. The methodology used to produce this system of anarchy is very simple. A high level politician gets in touch with the SHO. The SHO does the needful. If you approach even a higher officer, the higher officer will be told off by the SHO. This is quite in keeping with unofficial police practices as the money flows up the ladder from the SHO to the seniors. The bribes given to the policeman are shared in proportion by all personnel. At the Y Farms, the politician involved is at the highest level in the BJP. Even attempted intercessions by MPs and a Union Minister have produced no results.

The District Administration 

Despite the fact that all clearances were taken from the District Administration prior to the commencement of the project, suddenly on a date well past the project PDC, the Tehsildar cancelled the mutations of 94 farm houses. The cancellation was unilateral on the basis of a scurrilous application which was not even on affidavit and by untraceable parties and where the AFNHB was not even allowed to be represented. The Collector upheld the decision. The matter went up to the Allahabad High Court. The matter hung there for four years. It was only after the Supreme Court was obliged to remark—“There is something rotten in the affairs of Denmark”—with respect to the Allahabad High Court that a decision was given. The land reverted back to the project. The Tehsildar has still failed to restore the mutations.

During this period of 22 years that the project has been in limbo, about 70 owners have passed away. Many have seen their dreams of a rural home fade and they have tried to sell their land. Another shock from the district administration. For no reason they are refusing to mutate the sale transfer, the ostensible excuse being Bhoodan lands. Due to this the genuine buyer is obliged to stay away and the only buyer of these farms is, you guessed it, the same “security agent” and his cohorts, at their own price.

The Central Government 

Given the fact that Robert Vadra was interested in the Y Farms through Mahesh Nagar and also many of his land deals attracted the attention of the press, the UPA came under question even while in office. The shenanigans of Robert Vadra became an election issue with the BJP. Modi had promised justice which in five years of NDA rule failed to materialise. Towards that end, the Dhingra Commission was constituted. The report was suppressed. Finally the report was struck down by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Amazing that the Commission was being conducted by Justice Dhingra without the benefit of the law. Any transaction that is illegal and sufficiently lucrative attracts the minions of the law. Prosecution may well be launched but the matter is never concluded as long as the felon keeps paying the party in power. Through “inefficiency” of the minions of the law he is even allowed to escape the country. Examples being Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi. Even the criminality of the previous government becomes an asset and a source of income for the successor government. Source of income is all that matters. The Constitution be damned.


Despite the struggle for freedom resulting in the Constitution of India, control of the country has passed on to another alien race, the politician, whose interests transcend all constitutional safeguards. No one, including the Armed Forces personnel whose duties all over India render their personal properties unattended, is safe. The criminal is shielded and a large proportion of his ill-gotten gains go to the party in power. There is no dearth of politicians with criminal records in Parliament. All institutions of governance—like the police, the judiciary, the civil services and the armed forces—have been subverted. For his rights the Indian citizen has been left holding a piece of paper called the Constitution. The print being not worth anything more than the paper.

The author is a retired Wing Commander of the Indian Air Force.

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