You don’t really need to have a home in Gurgaon to get your gun licence renewed, if you are the bahu of a chief minister. You can name a hotel as your home, instead. The administration will cut you that slack, if you happen to be a VIP.
With no safety catch on, the Gurgaon administration suddenly finds itself in a Catch-22 situation following a gun licence renewal application submitted by Harsimrat Badal, the wife of high-profile Faridkot MP Sukhbir Singh Badal. If you are wondering how high and mighty Sukhbir Singh Badal could be: here’s the coup de grace that brooks no answer, at least in Gurgaon. He is the son of Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal.
Harsimrat was granted an arms licence (no. 5 DM/ 6/ May 2002) issued on May 28, 2002 to a hotel address, owned by the Badals, at Udyog Vihar. This is in complete violation of the prescribed rules and regulations of the Indian Arms Act of 1962. The licence was also renewed in 2005 after the same address was furnished by the applicant. The Act requires that applicants must be residents of areas from where they want gun licences.
Harsimrat had mentioned her address as: 443, Phase V, Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon, in her original arms licence application and also for two other renewals later. Where her house should have been stands a family-owned five-star hotel called Trident. They deny owning the hotel but that’s another story.
When we quizzed her, Harsimrat told MetroNow on the phone from her Delhi residence that her family had a permanent suite in the hotel. “If it is a mistake and illegal on the part of my staff to get my arms licence renewed by using the hotel address, I would soon get things rectified,” she added.
It is believed that Harsimrat might have been granted a licence in May 2002 due to pressure coming from Haryana’s political brass at that time. Haryana in 2002 was ruled by Badals’ friend Om Prakash Chautala. During this period, Anurag Rastogi was Gurgaon’s deputy commissioner, Kuldip Singh Siag was the senior superintendent of police and R. S. Kharb used to be the sub-divisional magistrate, the officers involved in the process of granting licences.
But then, when the licence was renewed in 2005, Haryana’s reins had changed hands and the present Congress government headed by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was at the helm. At that time, Sudhir Rajpal was the DC, Yoginder Nehra was the SSP and present incumbent Jai Singh Sangwan was the SDM.
Harsimrat was granted permission to have three types of weapons — a revolver, a pistol and a rifle. She has an all-India permit to carry her weapons. Her arms licence shows she had bought a rifle from her husband Sukhbir Singh Badal.
For renewals, Harsimrat had attached land allotment papers, issued by Haryana State Industries and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) for industrial plot no. 443, Udyog Vihar, Phase V, Gurgaon. The land had been allotted to M/s Orbit Resorts Pvt Limited which has three directors — Harsimrat, her husband Sukhbir and Sukhbir’s mother Surinder Kaur, the wife of Punjab’s CM Prakash Singh Badal.
In her application for a renewal of the arms licence on September 26, 2008, addressed to SDM Jai Singh Sangwan, Harsimrat once again stated her address as 443, Udyog Vihar, Phase V, Gurgaon, where hotel Trident stands today. Incidentally, the Badals had a business tieup with the Trident group.
It would be in the fitness of things to mention here the Lok Sabha secretariat’s records show Sukhbir Singh Badal’s permanent address as: House no. 256, Sector 9-C, Chandigarh and his present address as: 12, Safdarjung Road, New Delhi.
When asked, SDM Sangwan said, in keeping with procedures laid down, the application for a renewal was forwarded to the police department for verification.
Sub-Inspector Dayaram has categorically stated in his verification report that the Udyog Vihar property is owned by Harsimrat, Sukhbir Singh Badal and Surinder Kaur. “Ms Harsimrat visits the place (Trident Hotel) regularly (aati jati rahti hai) to look after her property,” says Dayaram’s report.
Confirming this, the Station House Officer of the Udyog Vihar Police Station has also stated in his report that Harsimrat visits this place (kabhi kabhi aati jati hai) and forwarded it to the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP). In turn, the ACP sent the report to Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Rakesh Arya for further action.
The sprawling Trident Hotel has clearly mentioned its address as 443, Phase V, Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon.
When asked, DCP Rakesh Arya said the police would act in step with the prescribed rules and regulations. “The department would not mention a single line or word contrary to the fact in its report, which would be forwarded to the SDM’s office for a final decision,” Arya added.
Legal experts assert that the police’s report must clearly mention that a five-star hotel exists at the address given by Harsimrat in her arms licence renewal application and that she does not live here. The police report is a confusing one and the civil administration may renew her licence on the basis of this report, as was done in 2005, advocate Kulbhushan Bhardwaj said.
But SDM Sangwan, under whose authority arms licences are renewed, maintains that his department would renew the arms licence only after seeking a comment from the DC’s office. This is because his office wants to avoid any controversy on the issue.
Politicians bend laws to get what they want, while making laws to make things difficult for people. Do you agree?