Haryana govt chargesheets Khemka; document 'forcibly' handed over to minor son, says IAS officer

Chargesheet document forcibly handed over to minor son in my absence, says IAS officer.

Chandigarh: Senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka has been chargesheeted by Haryana government in connection with cancellation of land deal between Robert Vadra and DLF in October last year, a move which BJP and INLD said amounted to punishing an 'honest' bureaucrat for 'exposing scams'.

The chargesheet was delivered at Khemka's residence in his absence on Wednesday and the 1991-batch IAS officer has been given a fortnight to reply, official sources said on Thursday.

The seven-page charge sheet against the bureaucrat, who is at present Secretary to Haryana Government's Archives Department, mainly dealt with the issue of alleged administrative misconduct and damage caused to the reputation of Vadra and realty giant DLF.

It also touched upon issues relating to his going to the media after cancellation of the mutation, criticising the state government's policy and not immediately giving up charge of his post despite having been transferred, they said.

Hitting back at the state authorities, Khemka said it was unprecedented that the document had been 'forcibly' handed over to his minor son in his absence.

In a strongly worded letter to Chief Secretary P.K. Chaudhery Thursday evening, the officer said he was on outstation leave to Delhi from the afternoon of December 4 to the forenoon of December 5 and his minor son was forced to accept delivery of the packet containing the charge sheet at 8:30 PM on December 4 on his behalf.

BJP and INLD, principal opposition parties in Haryana, reacted sharply to the serving of the charge sheet on Khemka, saying an 'honest and upright officer is being punished for doing his duty and exposing scams'.

While INLD's state unit chief Ashok Arora said, "Khemka has been punished for exposing the land scams involving high and mighty", senior BJP leader Anil Vij told reporters that "an honest and upright officer has been punished and harassed for just doing his job."

Vij said, "BJP is fully behind Khemka and we praise him for the courage he has shown to expose the land scams."

The IAS officer had cancelled the mutation on October 15, 2012, which the state government had alleged was an administratively improper step since he stood transferred as Managing Director of Haryana Seed Development Corporation. He had also been accused of selectively singling out a particular mutation. Asked to comment on the charge sheet, the Chief Secretary told reporters that it was a 'personnel matter'.

Another senior Haryana government official maintained that the state authorities did not believe in targeting or acting out of vindictiveness against any of its officials.

In his letter, Khemka said that the "modus operandi of serving the charge sheet in the night at the residence upon a minor member of the family is unprecedented" and sought to know from the state government through RTI Act the list of IAS officers who were charge sheeted in the last 10 years along with imputations and articles of charge.

"How was the service of the charge sheet effected upon the officer, i.e., the place, the time and the person to whom the charge sheet was served," he said.

In October this year, the Haryana government had decided to charge sheet Khemka, who claims to have been transferred more than 40 times during his career so far, for alleged administrative misconduct in cancelling the mutation of the land deal.

The officer has been held liable for alleged administrative misconduct for overstepping jurisdiction in passing orders to cancel the mutation of 3.5 acre land in Gurgaon's Shikohpur village. The land was sold by Vadra's Sky Light Hospitality to DLF.

The charge sheet is understood to have mentioned the clean chit given to the Rs 58-crore land deal by a committee which was formed by the Haryana government last year to probe the orders of Khemka in the wake of his decision to cancel the mutation of the land.

The committee had held that there was no undervaluation of land for payment of stamp duty on land registration as alleged and had put the IAS officer in the dock for acting beyond the authority vested in him.

Next: Chargesheet made public, act of criminal defamation: Khemka

Chargesheet made public, act of criminal defamation: Khemka

Khemka in the letter said that during his outstation leave a messenger from the Chief Secretary office came at his residence at 8:30 pm on Wednesday to deliver a packet addressed to him by name and official designation.

"On being told by my minor son, Ganesh A Khemka, age 16 years and 11 months, that Ashok Khemka is not at home, he (messenger) pressed upon the minor child to accept delivery of the packet failing which refusal to accept delivery would be recorded," he said.

The IAS officer claimed that the 'articles of charge and imputations' contained in the charge sheet are "prominently carried in the front page of today's edition" of a leading Hindi daily.

The chargesheet is private between the employer and the employee. Khemka said adding that publishing the chargesheet in the media is an act of criminal defamation. "It is unfortunate that the reporter was provided a copy of the charge sheet in the evening hours of December 4, even before the charge sheet was validly served upon me.

"The leakages are deliberate to malign me due to the exposure of the rentier-capitalist business model of a member from the ruling political family in the land-licensing scam in addition to cooking up motivated allegations in my earlier tenures at Haryana Seeds Development Corporation and Haryana State Warehousing Corporation without giving me an iota of opportunity to explain," he wrote.

Khemka said that he hoped that the chief secretary would order investigation into the 'planned leakages from government side and take exemplary action against the persons responsible for the criminal defamation'.

Since the charge sheet is published in the Hindi daily's edition of on Thursday, he said, adding "I hope you would not unfairly prevent me from publishing my response to the charge sheet and other allegations."

On serving of the charge sheet in late evening hours, Khemka said that his son was preparing for Class XII board exams and other competitive exams. He added that his 73-year-old mother is highly perturbed by such incidents.

"She is under constant medical supervision. There are threats to family members that political goons may vandalise the residence in night hours creating a feeling of terror in our minds. Night service of charge sheet to a minor child at residence when I am on sanctioned outstation leave only aggravate the sense of terror in the minds of my family members," he said.

The IAS officer further mentioned that he was not aware of any other case in the history of the service where a charge sheet was served upon a minor member of the family of the officer in the night at his residence, when the same could have been validly served upon the officer during office hours the following day.

The IAS officer said that the charge sheet could have been served to him on Thursday.

"I plead with folded hands that memos and charge sheets may please be served upon me in the office and my family members may not be punished for my sins of exposing scams of the high and mighty in scams of land-licensing, seeds and replacement of asbestos cement in roofing sheets for food grain godowns and rural drinking water supplies.

"I always endeavour to do my public duty without fear and favour as a true public servant, no matter how high is the cost," he wrote.

The probe panel, formed by Haryana government last year to probe the orders of Khemka in the wake of his decision to cancel the mutation of the land, had cleared the Rs 58 crore land deal, saying the factual position was different from the stand taken by the officer, who as Director General Consolidation of Holdings and Land Records-cum-Inspector General of Registration had ruled against Vadra.

Khemka, a day after his transfer on October 12, last year and three days before he actually relinquished charge, had asked Deputy Commissioners of four districts of Gurgaon, Palwal, Faridabad and Mewat falling in NCR to "inspect all documents registered from 2005 on behalf of Vadra or his companies in the capacity of vendor (seller) and vendee (buyer)."

The panel had stated that there was no bungling in the land deals. The committee's report had said that Khemka had applied his powers based on the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1883, under which he had no authority to act.

The committee had gone in depth into the issue by probing the whole gamut of aspects, including sale and purchase of properties, grant of letter of intent/licence, change of land use and undervaluation of properties.

The Deputy Commissioners of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Mewat had inspected all documents registered in their respective districts from January 1, 2005 till October 2012 by or on behalf of Vadra or his companies in the capacity of either vendor or vendee and had certified that no deed had been found registered as undervalued, a statement earlier issued by the state government had said.

( Source : PTI )
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