Pushed out of the department where he blew the whistle on several dubious land transactions, Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka has strongly protested against his abrupt transfer, saying that it was "grossly unfair" to punish him for being upright and exposing scams and corrupt acts, instead of taking action against the guilty.
Khemka, who was director general, consolidation of holdings and land records, has expressed shock at his transfer from the post within a span of less than three months.
"This is deliberate and malafide to punish me due to some vested elements in the political-bureaucratic hierarchy affected by the expose of the scams in consolidation of land holdings under the garb of exercise of powers," he wrote to the chief secretary PK Chaudhery on Friday.
His transfer order came barely two days after the Hooda government announced its initiatives to provide security to whistleblowers.
The officer, who evokes extreme reactions within the bureaucratic fraternity, is seen by many as a whistleblower who exposed wrongdoings in departments where he has served and even used RTI at times to ferret out information relating to undue favours availed by some of his colleagues.
Contacted, Chaudhery said he had received the officer's representation, but Khemka's contention that his transfer was punishment is wrong.
"It is the prerogative of the government. The officer was transferred for administrative reasons. He had represented to the government that he cannot decide matters in which appeal lies to officers junior to him," the CS said.
During his 50-day stint in the department, Khemka had detected serious irregularities in land transactions, involving transfer of panchayat land worth several hundred crore to newly-created real estate companies.
"Forest and hill areas were sought to be partitioned under the garb of consolidation to corner prime plots near highways to build farmhouses or resorts. There is another game of transferring possessory rights on panchayat lands in an unauthorised way," he wrote, requesting the CS to look into transactions pertaining to village Baad Gujar, Rozka-Gujar, Shikohpur (Gurgaon), Kot, Chirsi, Ankhir (Faridabad) and Malikpur Bangar and Kalesar in Yamunanagar.
The 1991-batch IAS officer has also pointed out that there was a minimum tenure of two years as per the statutory IAS (Fixation of Cadre Strength) Regulations, 2010, but it seemed the state government was unwilling to abide by its own statutory regulations.
The officer has now been given a post - managing director of Haryana Seeds Development Corporation - earlier held by an officer 12 years his junior as additional charge.
In July too, Khemka was hurriedly transferred from Haryana State Electronics Development Corporation (HARTRON) within eight weeks in a similar manner after he raised serious questions about some "corrupt" activities and engagement of three advisors at a hefty sum of Rs. 90 lakh per annum.
"There was also a nexus to award software development works of petty nature without tender to a few selected companies at inflated prices of Rs. 25 to Rs. 50 lakh each. Differences arose when a private company was sought to be smartly bailed out in a UIDAI project without forfeiture of Rs. 12.5 crore security deposits. I was given a humiliating marching order," he wrote, pleading for security and fixed tenure in a cadre post "befitting his seniority".
Aadhaar for land registration from 2013
In a move likely to go a long way in checking unauthorized transfer of panchayat or shamilat deh land and fraudulent/benami transactions, Ashok Khemka, who was also inspector general of registration, had framed the Haryana Registration Rules, 2012, making Aadhaar number issued by UIDAI for individuals and Corporate Identity Number (CIN) issued by the ministry of corporate affairs mandatory for registration of all documents including land registration.
These provisions aimed at bringing transparency in land transactions will come into force with effect from October 1, 2013.
The rules circulated to all registrars on October 10 - a day before the IAS officer was transferred - also provide that no transfer of immovable property of gram panchayat or shamilat deh will be registered unless authorized by a resolution of the panchayat and approved by the department of development and panchayats.
Similarly, no transfer of possessory rights on such land will be registered unless authorized by a resolution of the gram panchayat and approved by the registrar.
The rules framed in exercise of powers vested under section 69(1) of the Registration Act, 1908, have been sent to additional chief secretary, revenue, for approval of the state government and publishing in the official gazette.
"During the course of inspection of land records of some villages, huge misappropriation of panchayat lands was noticed. The government may consider compiling the list of mis-appropriated panchayat land by way of changed ownership or unauthorized possession," he wrote, recommending a judicial inquiry into continuing large-scale misappropriation of panchayat lands.