The M.S. Shoes Case
[Source : Book: Big Egos Small Men, P.No.82 to 103 ]
Chapter VI
[ Page No. 82-83]

The Managing Director of the M.S. Shoes Company is one Pawan Sachdev. It is said that he was involved in a CBI enquiry, something which I regarded as irrelevant. If a person is entitled to justice from the Government in a particular transaction, justice must be done to him whatever be his character otherwise and whatever be the public opinion of the person claiming justice. That is the only way a stern judicial mind must act. Having practiced for decades, I have known cases of seemingly deadly evidence against an accused but which on closer scrutiny and skillful cross-examination turned out to be a complete fabrication.
As a criminal lawyer, I have seen it happen again and again. One of the most prominent illustrations that comes to my mind is the case of Balbir Singh who was accused of being a conspirator in the assassination of late Indira Gandhi. A Sessions Judge found him guilty and sentenced him to death. A Bench of three Judges of the High Court of Delhi unanimously sustained his conviction and sentence; and yet when the matter was closely examined by three Judges of the Supreme Court, they had no difficulty in reaching a unanimous conclusion that the case was false. I had the honour of appearing for Balbir Singh and I regard his acquittal as one of the highlights of my legal career.
The case against Sachdev had not gone to Court at all. The CBI was investigating some allegations and finally it came to the conclusion that there was nothing which would warrant even his prosecution. Sachdev produced before me official communication from the CBI exonerating him completely of all accusations. I mention this for the benefit of those whose minds have been poisoned by interested propaganda that I had taken a favourable view of MS Shoes Company whose Managing Director was a bad character. It turned out that the public perception of him was totally wrong, but I must make it clear that even if he was a man of bad character, I would still have ached the same conclusion as I did in the matter which was presented to me officially for my decision as a Minister for Urban Development. I had announced my settled policy that all useless avoidable litigation has to be eliminated and will be eliminated. I will not compel citizens to wait for decades for some Court to take up their cases and hear them. I had seen how Government officers fighting with public money harass innocent citizens and expose them to the torturous delays of our legal system. The lawyers have had a field day and so also Corrupt bureaucrats and occasionally Judges too.
Whenever a citizen came to my Ministry and asked for Justice, I gave a hearing both to the applicant and my officers and speedily took a firm decision one way or the other. One contention I consistently rejected from my officers: that the matter was pending in Court. Repeatedly, I had explained to them that the matter was in Court because the citizen had been initially denied justice. If two persons fight in Court, nothing prevents one or both of them realizing that the fight does nobody any good and a reasonable compromise is the best guarantee of justice. This policy hurt vested interests and provoked resistance from officials ever reluctant to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs. Some of them were just moral cowards and knew what justice demanded but were afraid to take the right action for fear of being misunderstood.
[Page No. 84-85]
The Housing Urban Development Corporation, shortly called HUDCO, was a proposed lessee from the Government of a piece of land at Andrews Ganj in Delhi. This land had been allotted to it for putting up a guest house block. Tenders were invited by HUDCO. When they were opened in July 1994, M.S. Shoes' offer was found the best and HUDCO agreed to sublease 25 shops, 9 guest house blocks, restaurants and kitchens for a total price of Rs. 100 crores. A letter of allotment was issued in October 1994 and M.S. Shoes paid out a sum of nearly Rs. 40 crores by way of the first installment. The second installment was due in March 1995. This second installment, however, was not paid on the due date.
M.S. Shoes contended that the scheme of the transaction between them was that the sub-lease by HUDCO should be made available to them for execution and the company be allowed to start construction, making it commercially possible for it to pay the second and third installments. The company further pleaded that no reciprocal obligation had been performed by HUDCO. In view of the threatened cancellation of the allotment, the company filed a suit in the High Court pleading for extension of time. This appeared to have been granted but on some onerous terms. HUDCO then proceeded to cancel the allotment in January, 1996. A comprehensive suit was filed in the District Court challenging the validity of the cancellation on a number of grounds not litigated in the High Court suit. On an interlocutory application to prevent l-IUDCO or the Government Department from re-auctioning the property to anybody else, the District Judge heard elaborate arguments and finally passed an order dated 23 February 1998 extract from which deserves' to be quoted.:
"Prime facie, the plaintiff has succeeded in establishing that on reading the allotment letter as a whole, the question of payments and the conduct of the parties suggest that the time was not intended to be essence of the contract. Further, the plaintiff had also succeeded prime facie in establishing the fact that till date the defendant No. 2 is not in a position to perform his part of obligation since the project not having been provided with common facility and the completion certificate not having been obtained. Further, the plaintiff has also established in like manner from the documents placed on record that the defendant No. 2 had no right, title or interest in the said property until 4th July, 1997 and therefore, no final arrangement could have been made between the parties till 4th July, 1997 whereas the plaintiff long back had parted with 40% of the total price of the project in return of which he has got nothing till date but the cancellation of his allotment. The additional document brought on record by the plaintiff have a lot to speak in respect of a prima facie case being in favour of the plaintiff."
It is pertinent to point out that M.S. Shoes had borrowed large moneys from financial institutions. These moneys had I 'teen advanced obviously on the expectation that the project will be successfully completed and their loans will be repaid with interest. The financial institutions also appeared before the Court and represented to the Court that the cancellation of the contract and forfeiture of the moneys paid by the plaintiff were tota1ly unjustified. This order of the District Judge was passed before I became a Minister some weeks later.
It appears that the matter had reached Members of Parliament and the cruel and discriminatory action of HUDCO had I "come the subject matter of a Starred Question No. 371 which was answered in the Rajya Sabha on 20 March 1997. The question was addressed to the Prime Minister by two responsible Members, Suryabhan Patil Vahadane and Rajnath Singh "Surya." The text of the question indicates the thrust of the questioners:
[Page No. 85-87]
"Will the PRIME MINISTER be pleased to state:
"(a) whether it is a fact that HUDCO has adopted a dual policy in extending the time for payment of instalments for its project at Andrews Ganj;
"(b) whether it is also a fact that one of the parties, M/s Ansal Builders, have been given possession of land and extension of time for payment of second instalment, while the other tenderer, M/s M.S. Shoes, have neither been given possession of land nor extension for payment of second instalment, inspite of initial payment of Rs. 70 crores collected from banks and the public; and
"(c) if so, what are the reasons therefor and what action is being taken to ensure equal treatment to MIs M.S. Shoes by
A detailed answer was furnished not by the Prime Minister but by the Minister of State in Urban Affairs and Employment Ministry, Dr. U. Venkateswarlu. While it was admitted by the Minister that extensions of time had been granted for payment of overdue instalments to an Ansal Company and had not been granted to M.S. Shoes, the discriminatory treatment wm justified on the ground of difference of facts. It is not difficult for a Minister to make out a list of facts which may make ~ technical distinction without a real difference. Not repelling the suggestion that HUDCO had not performed its share of th' bargain, the Minister claimed that the obligations were not that of HUDCO but of M.S. Shoes. When I read the answer of the Minister, my predecessor in office, I had no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that it was based upon a gross mis apprehension of the contract between the parties and I was not surprised that the Members of Parliament in due course gave notice of breach of privilege against the Minister for having misled the House by the answer which he had given in the previous year. It must be stated that the notice of breach of privilege was an extremely well-argued document running into more than eight pages and the notice was supported not merely by the original questioners but by other Members of Parliament as well.
35 Members of Parliament covering the most important political parties had represented to my Ministry to look into this matter. The gravamen of these communications was the clear insinuation that the powerful Ansals were having their defaults condoned whereas this poor man with hardly any assets of his own was being harshly treated. Incidentally, one of the Member of Parliaments was Vasundhara Raje, a Minister in our own Government. I had, therefore, to take upon myself the task of examining the real position and coming to my own independent conclusions, a task which I have never shirked.
Almost the same time the Rajya Sabha Secretariat was insisting on our response to the notice of breach of privilege formally given by responsible Members of the House. I had passed two orders, one of 17 June 1998 and the second of 20 April 1999. The second order became necessary because officers in my Department could not reconcile themselves to a manifest act of justice which the facts of the case imperatively called for. Both these orders were directed to be communicated to the Rajya Sabha and we had candidly informed the House that the reply furnished by my Ministry in March 1997 was inaccurate 1n certain respects. However, I said that the facts of the case were so complicated that the reply though inaccurate was bonafide and there was no intention to mislead the House. The two orders are fully reproduced here below:

[Page No. 88-89]
Subject: Misleading reply to Starred
Question No. 371 dated 20.3.1997
Notice of breach of privilege regarding
The above matter has been fully examined in this Ministry, the following orders were passed on 17.6.1998 and 13.7.1998 by me:
"Based on the representation of MSSEL, I had directed the Department to examine in detail the terms of the tender and whether mutual obligations were fulfilled by both the parties with regard to the 9 guest house blocks/9 restaurants/25 shops. It was alleged that HUDCO did not fulfill the terms of the tender and allotment letter, even after receipt of 40% of the bid amount. Based on HUDCO's response, the Department has put up a detailed note which I have gone through. I have the following observations:
1.The last date for submission of tender was 15 July, 1994. The brochures for the above bid clearly mentions as follows:
a) "Guest houses: These are built with high standards of construction."
b) "The guest houses are finished in permanent materials."
c) "The rooms are finished in ceramic tiles."
d) "All the rooms at the guest houses are centrally air-conditioned . . .are equipped with telephone connections."
From the above quotations, it is clear that HUDCO gave impression to the bidders that the guest houses were ready to be handed over to the bidder.
2. Regarding sub-lease of the property, the brochure says as follows:
"Built up area will be given on long term lease basis. Govt. has given the land to HUDCO on 99 years lease. The built space will in turn be leased to buyers on long term lease co-terminus with the 99 year lease period given to HUDCO." An examination of the record shows that lease was executed be the Ministry of Urban Affairs & Employment with HUDCO only on 4th July, 1997. This is almost three years after the tenders were called. Even if MSSEL had paid the bid amount as scheduled, HUDCO would not have been able to execute sub-lease because they did not have lease in their favour.
3. Even though the allotment letter stipulates 2nd instalment to be paid on 31.1.1995 and 20% on possession, the clearance from the DUAC for the building plan were applied and received as late as 15th May, 1996. This means that the buildings were constructed without authorization from the DUAC. Since even the sanction of the DUAC was not there till the above date, possession of the building in question could not have been handed over to the bidder prior to that date.
4. The building plans for the above buildings were approved by the MCD only on 9th August, 1996. The above buildings could not have been handed over to the bidder prior to that date even though the brochure had committed that the buildings were complete when the tender was floated.
5. It is learnt that completion certificates for the above buildings have not been issued even today by the MCD. Therefore, the buildings are not yet ready to be handed over to the bidder even today while the brochure committed that the guest houses were built and ready.
[Page No. 90-91]
6. Clearance from the Fire Department was obtained only on 13.8.1997. HUDCO could not have handed over the buildings without mandatory clearance from the Fire Department.
7. According to the terms of the letter of allotment, both the parties were liable to take appropriate action under the Urban Land Ceiling Act. According to Section 27 of the Urban Land Ceiling Act, it is the transferer who has to make application for exemption under Urban Land Ceiling Act. According to Section 19(1), vacant land held by Central Government or State Government or any cooperative established by or under a central or provincial or state act or any Govt. company is exempt from the Land Ceiling Act. However, land with a building is not exempted under Section 19(1); therefore, HUDCO was bound to make the application under Section 27 after receipt of the first instalment of 40% and if permissions were not granted. In the present case HUDCO did not take any initiative to file the application for permission. Therefore, HUDCO did not fulfill its obligation under the terms of the agreement.
8. Section 269 UC (3) of the Income Tax Act states that both the parties have to make an application as per Rule 48 (b) in Form No. 37-I, within 15 days of the date of agreement to sell the property. In this case, it is seen that HUDCO did not take any initiative to file the papers as required under the above Act and Rules. It is seen that in the case of Ansals, who were the bidders for the shopping arcade, HUDCO had forwarded Form 37-I to the Ansals on their own initiative (see letter dated 15th June, 1995, from HUDCO).
9. It is seen that in the case of Ansals, who were the allottees for the shopping complex, HUDCO had given repeated extensions for payment of instalments without interest, after pointing out repeatedly in their own letters that Ansals were at fault. In Ansals case, it was the responsibility of the Ansals to get building plans sanctioned. They even delayed taking over possession inspite of repeated request by HUDCO. HUDCO's letter dated 7th September, 1996, is a good example of the leniency shown towards Ansals.
10. MSSEL had gone to the Court of Additional District Judge, R.S. Arya, challenging the cancellation of the allotment letters. The above Court has confirmed the stay of re-auction of this property. This Ministry has gone in appeal against the above judgment. However, the Court has made some pertinent observations in the above judgment, from which I quote
"I do not think that the act of defendant No. 2 forfeiting the entire amount of 1st instalment is justified in the context and perspective of the fact and circumstances discussed as above. What right defendant No. 2 had to forfeit the amount of 1st instalment running in crores when defendant No. I itself was not and even till date is not in a position to perform its part of obligations. To contend that it was not the obligation of defendant No.2 to obtain clearance from Income Tax authority under ULC Act does not hold good since it is the duty of the seller to execute the documents and take initiatives for obtaining such clearance. This was not so done by the defendant No. 2 since no proforma for agreement to sub-lease was provided to the plaintiff along with the letter of allotment as was done in the case of APIL. Not only this, but the defendant No. 2 even went to the extent of granting NOC to APIL for raising loans from the bank against the security of the Project in violation of the terms and conditions of the allotment whereas on the other hand the plaintiff was even denied its genuine request for a reasonable extension of time in making the payment of second instalment."
[Page No. 92-93]
"Prima facie, the plaintiff has succeeded in establishing that on reading the allotment letter as a whole, the question of payments and the conduct of the portion suggest that the time was not intended to be essence of the contract. Further, the plaintiff had also succeeded prima facie in establishing the fact that till date the defendant No. 2 is not in a position to perform his part of obligation since the project not having been provided with common facility and the completion certificate not having been obtained."
11. Quoted below is clause 3(xi) of the allotment letter:
"HUDCO will provide assistance for obtaining approval of the competent authority under the Urban Land (Ceiling & Regulation) Act, 1975 and also of the appropriate authority in terms of the chapter xx-c of the Income Tax Act. If these are not accorded, HUDCO will refund the amount paid by you without interest and you shall not be entitled to any compensation or damages of any kind whatsoever."
From the above, it is clear that statutory clearances were not sought for. The responsibility of HUDCO with regard to permissions under Urban Land (Ceiling & Regulation) Act and Income Tax Act was already discussed earlier. Since these
clearances were not obtained by HUDCO, the bidder was justified in not paying the second instalment as he discovered after payment of the first instalment that there was a huge gap between promises made in the brochure and the actual ground realities. Without applying for permissions from the statutory bodies, without obtaining sanctions from the DUAC, without obtaining building sanctions from the MCD, and without a completion certificate and power connection it was unfair and unjustified for HUDCO to have demanded payment of further instalments after giving the impression to the bidder that the buildings were ready to be handed over. Since the HUDCO has not fulfilled the obligation, it is natural justice that the allotment be restored immediately. It is unfair to refund the amount as envisaged in Clause 3 (xi) of the allotment letters since the primary responsibility rests with HUDCO, in not fulfilling the statutory requirements. After having invested large sum of money, three and a half years back, it is unfair to merely refund the money. The bidder has to be given a fair deal by restoring this allotment. He also should be paid whatever interest, HUDCO earned on the amount, which must have been deposited on long term basis in the bank. The interest earned should be adjusted against the second instalment. HUDCO will take immediate steps to get all the statutory clearances. Once statutory clearances are obtained including completion certificate, HUDCO will give the bidder three months time to pay the 2nd instalment as per original allotment letters. Third instalment will be paid as per the terms of original allotment letters.
"Issue directions to HUDCO as above, briefly indicating the reasons. HUDCO should not waste time and money on avoidable litigation."
[ Page No. 94-95]
"I have gone through the opinion of the Deptt. My orders were only regarding the guest house blocks/restaurants/shops and not for the five star hotel site because third party rights have already been created in favour of Leela Hotels Ltd. over the hotel site. The Deptt. has not come up with any valid argument to refute my conclusion that HUDCO did not fulfill its obligation under the terms and conditions of the allotment letters. Even today HUDCO is not in a position to fulfill its obligation as completion certificate has not yet been obtained by HUDCO."
I reiterate my view that it was upto HUDCO to take initiative to obtain the necessary clearance under the ULCR Act and the Income Tax Act. The Acts are very clear and the practices are equally clear.
Clause 11(c) of the lease deed is quoted below:
"After the completion of the construction and development of the community centre but not later than ten years from the date of this perpetual Lease Deed, the Lessor will have the right to review the arrangement with the Lessee and enter into fresh arrangement with any other government agency or public sector undertaking for the purpose of lease/maintenance and administration of the properties. The rights and liabilities of the Sub-Lessee under the sub-lease entered into by the Lessee with sub-lessee in respect of the properties developed in the community centre complex shall, however, continue in the same manner by the designated agency."
From the above clause it is clear that the Ministry continues to have a definite say in the property, even after execution of the lease deed.
The allotment letter says:
"A monitoring committee consisting of Additional Secretary, Joint Secretary dealing with the subject and Joint Secretary
(Finance) from the Ministry of Urban Affairs, Director General (Works), CPWD and CMD, HUDCO will monitor/progress of the works undertaken the utilisation of surplus funds for the construction of General Pool Residential Accommodation."
Therefore, this Ministry has the role of continuous supervision regarding the project even after execution of the lease deed.
Allotment letter says further:
"The details of sub-leasing arrangement in respect of facilities developed on the Community Centre land will be finalised by the Government in consultation with HUDCO."
Therefore, the Government still has the right to exercise its option even after executing the lease deed. Moreover, the date on which the allotment was cancelled, i.e., 1 January 1996, lease had not yet been executed by the Government with HUDCO and, therefore, the land still belonged to the Government on the date of cancellation. Now, we are only trying to undo the unjustified decision which was taken when the land was still with the Government and not with HUDCO. In fact, the tender was invited by HUDCO on the direction of this Ministry. The Andrews Ganj Project has been entrusted by this Ministry to HUDCO for execution as an agent of the Ministry. Therefore, HUDCO in this case was only an agency authorised by this Ministry to deal with this land on "No Profit No Loss" basis and, as such, the land was given to HUDCO at a nominal rate of Re. 1 per acre and not at market rate; otherwise, under GFR 282 (3), no land could have been given to Public Sector Undertaking at nominal rate of Re. 1 per acre. Further, in another file orders were passed by me that this Ministry reserves its rights to issue directions to HUDCO in respect of this land. Therefore, this Ministry continues to have a say in the matter and can issue directions to HUDCO in respect of this land as it would not be tantamount to any directive to a Public Sector Undertaking and, as such, does not require any approval or clearance from Deptt. of Public Enterprises, as HUDCO's role here is not of a Public Sector Unit, as explained above, but an agency of the Government.
[ Page No 96-97]
Regarding the Secretary's opinion of application of Rule 4 (2) of the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961, Legal Affairs Deptt. had opined in the other file pertaining to the five-star hotel site as follows:
"As per the said rule, it has been clearly prescribed that when the subject of a case concerns more than one Department, no order be issued untill all such Department have concurred, or failing such concurrence, a decision thereon has been taken by or under the authority of Cabinet. Clause (2) Sub-clauses (a), (b) and (d) of Rule 4 of the said Rules are also applicable to the instant case because the Agreement of Lease to HUDCO on a nominal sum of Re. I involves an abandonment of revenue, it involves grant of lease of land and has also financial implications. Therefore, the Ministry of Urban Affairs & Employment was required to obtain previous concurrence of the Ministry of Finance before granting the lease to HUDCO and/or allowing the sub-lease to Leela Hotels. Further, clause (3) Sub-clause (c) of Rule 4 provides that the Ministry of Law shall be consulted on the preparation of important contracts to be entered into by the Govt. But in this case, the advice of the Ministry of Law was not to enter into such a contract. Therefore, in this situation, it was obligatory on the part of the Ministry of Urban Affairs to seek the approval of the Cabinet before finalising the lease and sub-lease in question. It appears that in the absence of concurrence of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Law and other concerned Ministries/Departments if any, the Perpetual Lease Deed executed by GOl in favour of HUDCO and the Agreement to Sub-Lease followed by a transfer of possession of the land by HUDCO to Leela Hotels do not appear to be legally in order."
When there was actual revenue loss to the Government, this Ministry refused to comply with Rule 4(2).
All the earlier actions, permissions, approvals and directions of this Ministry given to HUDCO in regard to Community Centre were, therefore, not with the sanction of the Department of Law & Justice, Ministry of Finance, Department of Public
Enterprises etc. or the approval of the Cabinet. The present issue of restoration does not involve any loss either to the Govt. or to the HUDCO and still the Department advises that we are bound by Rule 4. This is certainly not an acceptable advice.
There is no loss of revenue either to Government or to HUDCO because when allotments are restored, HUDCO is liable to get the remaining instalments. HUDCO cannot claim any loss on account of such restoration because even today HUDCO is not in a position to fulfill its obligation since completion certificate has not yet been obtained by HUDCO for these buildings and neither any legal formalities regarding IT Act and ULCR Act have been complied with by HUDCO and parting with the interest earned does not cause any loss of revenue to Government as the amount received has been enjoyed without performing reciprocal obligations towards the allottee. Since there is no revenue loss, it does not warrant any approval from the Finance Ministry. It is purely an dministrative decision which does not have financial implications as far as HUDCO or Government is concerned since as per clause VII of the allotment letter of 19.3.1996, the amount pertaining to the HUDCO is to be kept in a separate account. The lease agreement has also provided accordingly.

[Page No. 98-99]
Various letters of HUDCO dated 17 April 1995, 2 May 1995, 24 May 1995 and 20 March 1996 are examples of leniency that
Ansals were granted interest-free extensions even after taking actual physical possession on 10 November 1995 for construction. While approval from MCD was responsibility of the allottee, in the case of Guest Houses Blocks such approvals were the responsibility of HUDCO, as the properties when tendered were constructed properties. In ANSAL's case, HUDCO and this Ministry have considered in public interest/commercial prudence the deemed date of possession as of entertainment of maps by MCD inspite of all other obligations performed by HUDCO while terms of allotment of Five-Star Hotel and ANSALS are same.
Under Clause (xvi) of the Lease Deed, the lease was governed under the Government Grants Act, 1895. Since the land is given under the Government Grants Act and since the lease is governed under the Government Grants Act, the following provisions of Government Grants Act are relevant which are reproduced below:
"3(1) The Crown has an unfettered discretion under this section to impose any condition, limitation or restriction in its grants and the rights, privileges and obligations of the grantee would be regulated only according to the terms of the grant itself though they are inconsistent with the provisions of any statute or common law."
"3(6) When the Government conveyed a right of chank fishery, the lease amounts to an interest in immovable property to which provisions of Government Grants Act are applicable and in view of Section 3 of the said Act, the Government is entitled to put such conditions in a grant which a private individual could not. Hence, a condition of unilateral cancellation of lease by the Government without assigning any reason, would not be invalid and unenforceable."
"3(13) Where the land belongs to Government, it is free to give lease or rights to cultivate to whomsoever it chose and can change its policies from time to time in accordance with its own social objectives and any order modifying or nullifying the earlier policy decision by a subsequent resolution cannot be deprivatory of any one's right."
Therefore, this Ministry has the right to issue directives, as deemed necessary as provided for in the above Act.
In any civilized society, a Government or a Government agency can not get away making false promises especially in commercial transactions; they would be penalised severely since at least the Government has no moral right to cheat the public for whose benefit the Government is expected to operate.
Tall promises made by HUDCO on behalf of the Government could not be kept and even today they are not in a position to
keep the same. I have detailed out the reasons under which I have ordered especially at 'X' on page 37/N. It is not necessary for me to repeat my earlier arguments as none of these have been refuted by the Department.
In a democracy, it is the responsibility of the Government and especially of an elected political representative to ensure that the Government gives a fair deal to its citizens and does not bully the helpless citizens by powers of law and authority Which the Constitution has empowered the state. There is very I ~t tie an ordinary citizen can do to get justice if the Government lecides not to grant justice since the Government has access to Unlimited funds and can hire the best legal brains. The citizen can go to court but it would take a life time to get justice since there is option to appeal to the Supreme Court. The properties question, constructed in 1994, are fast deteriorating which is causing loss to the Government revenue. In this case, a Court has delivered judgment which appears to me to be extremely a balanced view of the situation. The Government can take cover under the excuse that appeal has been filed against the above judgment. But there was no moral authority behind filing such an appeal and HUDCO lost the chance of a lawful settlement offered under the court orders.

[Page No. 100-101 ]

Our agency was responsible for the delay. The allottee had paid huge amount of money as first installment and he saw very little of the promises made out in the brochure being kept. Therefore, he was perfectly right in challenging the cancellation letters. He felt that his money was blocked for a long time and that it was forfeited illegally. His apprehensions were reasonable and it has stood the test of time since HUDCO could not obtain the completion certificate even now. Therefore, HUDCO is legally obliged to restore the allotments.
I reiterate my views expressed earlier and order that a directive be issued by the Department to HUDCO as indicated earlier. It does not warrant Presidential directive and, therefore, does not warrant reference to the Department of Public Enterprises; no concurrence is required from Ministry of Finance either.
"HUDCO will immediately withdraw the appeal by the next date of hearing i.e. 16 July 1998, and MSSEL will also withdraw all the litigations and legal notices given to Government pertaining to these allotments on receipt of restoration letters as per my orders. An undertaking should be taken from MSSEL that they will not claim any damages from Government or HUDCO in respect of these allotments after restoration. "This decision does not affect any stand taken or assurance given to Parliament. It also does not affect any pending litigations as there are no third-party rights created on this property.
"Put up a draft of directive to HUDCO for my perusal by 14 July 1998. "This file will not be referred to any there Department or authority without my orders."
S D/-(UDM) 13.7.1998

" In view of the above orders, it has to be admitted that the reply furnished on 20 March 1997 was inaccurate in certain respects. However, the facts of the case were complicated and the reply was given bonafide and there was no intention to mislead the house, therefore, no breach is committed."
Games of the Bureaucrats
The disgruntled officers of my Ministry whom I overruled leaked out the papers to Subramanjan Swamy who not only held a press conference but kept writing to the Prime Minister that I should be prosecuted. I immediately wrote a letter to the Director of the CBI asking him to investigate for I had nothing to hide. Here is my letter dated 27 August 1998, followed by a letter of 4 September 2000. Both the letters are reproduced here below:

[Page No. 102-103]

"Dear Dr. Mishra, "I am enclosing herewith a news item. It speaks for itself.
"1 am inviting you and earnestly requesting you to take cognizance of the charge of corruption levelled by Swami.
If there are any legal obstacles which protect Ministers against inquiry, I hereby waive them all. You can exercise all your statutory powers including search, seizure and arrest. I hope, you will invite Swami to file an FIR with you. If it turns out that he is indulging in one of his usual canards, he should he dealt with u/S 182 and/or Sec. 211 of the Indian Penal Code.
"I have reason to suspect that some disgruntled officers of my Department are passing on stolen official papers to Swami. I would request that this aspect of the matter may also be investigated.
"Needless to say that you and your officers are free to interrogate me at any time of the day or night.
"With warm personal regards."
"Dear Mishra,
Sub: Swamy's Charges
"This is in continuation of my DO letter No. VIP/LIAEM/98/ 3161-L dated 27.8.1998.
"Kindly find enclosed copy of the press release dated 26th August, 1998 issued by Subramanian Swamy in M.S. Shoes case and the Press release dated 29th August, 1998 regarding Sitaram Bhandar Trust. The Press releases contain the complete notings from both the files. These raise reasonable suspicion about the identity of persons involved and/or to be questioned.
"Needless to say my invitation that you probe charges against me, stands.
With warm regards,"
Yours sincerely, Sd/ (Ram Jethmalani)"
The CBI did not find the trash worth touching but my dear friend Soli had discovered something to hug and hatch.
One should see Indian Express of 24 July (see Annexure VI) to see how Sorabjee uses that one till today. Some one in the PMO has egged him on to this sordid game.