Digressing from the core issues on which the Haryana government sought a response from him, Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka, in his 100-page response, has trained guns on his bureaucrat colleagues. Khemka has spoken about the appropriation of panchayat land by them and his run-ins with senior IAS officers, which led to his frequent transfers.
In March this year, the state government sought a response from Khemka on the findings of the three-member committee, which was constituted in October 2012 to "ascertain facts and to inquire into acts of omission and commission by authorities involved". The committee's mandate was primarily to scrutinise Khemka's orders of October 12 and 15, 2012, in his capacity as director general, consolidation, and inspector general of registration by which he had ordered an inquiry into the under-valuation of properties owned by the companies of Robert Vadra, the businessman son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and also set aside the mutation of 3.5 acres sold by Vadra's Sky Light Hospitality (SLH) to realty major, DLF, in Gurgaon's Shikohpur.
Reference made to Hooda
In his response to the findings of the committee, Khemka has also made a reference to Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, alleging that the partition of panchayat land in Faridabad's Ankhir village had benefited one Krishna Kanta, who is the mother of Haryana IAS officer Praveen Kumar, and "is reported to be the paternal aunt of the present Haryana chief minister". Kumar was the Faridabad deputy commissioner at the time of partition and is now posted as the Haryana Urban Development Authority administrator in Gurgaon.
IAS officer built house on panchayat land
Khemka's response, which was submitted to the chief secretary in May, alleges deliberate inaction by the revenue department in matters pertaining to the consolidation of land.
Referring to a case of the villages of Kalesar and Malikpur Bangar in Yamunanagar district during his tenure as director general, consolidation of holdings (DGCH), Khemka has written that a large portion of such illegally mutated panchayat land was bought by politicians and bureaucrats from co-sharers at dirt cheap prices and specific prime Khasra numbers were taken into possession after getting the commonly held land partitioned by exercising influence upon junior revenue officers. "A particular shocking case was of a senior IAS officer who retired in the rank of additional chief secretary and is now re-employed as the chairman of a regulatory body. He is reported to have constructed a building near the Kalesar rest house on panchayat land in the name of his nephew. The modus operandi adopted was brought to the notice of the revenue department on October 11, 2012," Khemka has said.
Mental torture, run-ins with senior colleagues
Khemka in his reply to the state government has also talked about mental torture he went through during his stint in various departments. Making a mention of his frequent transfers, he has said that despite doing good work in implementing the electronic benefit transfer scheme in the social justice and empowerment department, he was unceremoniously transferred out because he resisted an illegal order of the then principal secretary to reinstate an employee in service. "The guilty employee was removed from service after a departmental inquiry on account of embezzlement of more than R22 lakh from pension money in Jhajjar district between 2001 and 2002. An FIR was registered against him for embezzling government funds. The employee has been charged by a criminal court and the trial is underway. But soon after the transfer of the undersigned from the department, the guilty employee was illegally reinstated in service without an order of the competent appellate authority, absolving him of the guilt proved in the departmental inquiry," reads Khemka's reply.
The IAS officer has further said that his tenure as managing director of Haryana State Electronics Development Corporation (HARTRON) lasted just 50 days. "The reason for the transfer from HARTRON was the discovery of corrupt practices within the organisation. Some favoured, small-time companies were empanelled using arbitrary criteria. The information technology (IT) related works were being awarded at very high rates to a select list of empanelled companies. There was a nexus between the management and the empanelled IT companies," he has said in the reply.
Citing examples, Khemka said that there was a loss of R70 lakh to the corporation in the purchase of electricity billing software without client requirement. In another case, 200 licences of SAP Software were bought without requirement from an empanelled company at a cost of R17.4 lakh. The licences are with the corporation without utility. On a reference with documentary evidence, the state government was left with no alternative but to delist the dubiously empanelled companies. "One such company was debarred by the undersigned for 10 years from dealing with HARTRON. Some employees found guilty were chargesheeted but were later let off with minor penalties," he has said.
Khemka's reply reads that the principal secretary of the IT department did not appreciate his insisting on asking for self-appraisal reports and future roadmaps from the three persons engaged by him as IT advisers in the department at the time of consideration of extension of their existing contracts. "The IT advisers were paid from a society for IT initiative fund for e-governance, whose accounts are not subject to audit by the comptroller and auditor general (CAG). Differences arose with the principal secretary of the IT department due to his unreasonable denial and Khemka's insistence for self-appraisal and a roadmap from the three IT advisers before granting them extension, the reply reads.
Regarding his shunting out from the Haryana Seeds Development Corporation, the IAS officer has said that he tried his best to usher in reforms in an important sector concerning farmers. "Unfortunately, vested interests did not allow this to happen. By ensuring my exit from the corporation after a brief tenure of 165 days, they ensured that status quo was not disturbed at any cost and corruption in the utilisation of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana grants continued as before in complete harmony with the state agriculture department," his response read.
HUDA administrator denies charges
Hindustan Times had on October 7, 2012, broken the Faridabad village story. Haryana IAS officer Praveen Kumar, who is the HUDA administrator in Gurgaon, had in October 2012 denied the allegations. "I have nothing to do with the partition. The file is given to the consolidation officer. It goes to the director, land records, and director, consolidation. There is no role of the deputy commissioner in it. Moreover, the piece of land owned by my mother is about 1.5 km from Surajkund road. There is not even a pucca access road to that piece of land," he said.