The BJP government in Haryana has ordered to chargesheet 1991-batch IAS officer Ashok Khemka for minor penalty (see box) under Rule 10 of All India Services (Appeals and Discipline) Rules for causing avoidable financial loss to Haryana Seeds Development Corporation (HSDC) in 2012-13 on account of unsold stocks of wheat seed. The decision to chargesheet Khemka for unsold wheat seeds was taken during the rule of the previous Congress government.
Interestingly, the current government had in November 2015 dropped a major penalty charge sheet against Khemka in which he was held liable for administrative misconduct for overstepping in passing orders to cancel the mutation of 3.5 acres in Gurgaon’s Shikohpur village, the land sold by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra to realty major DLF and indulging in public criticism of the actions and policies of the state government. The dropping of the charge sheet paved the way for his promotion.
What are the charges?
As per the articles of charges served on him, Khemka as managing director, HSDC, (October 2012 to April 2013) did not take much interest in liquidating the stock of certified wheat seed, resulting in about 87,000 quintals of certified wheat seed valuing Rs 22.21 crore remaining unsold. This caused an avoidable financial loss to the tune of Rs 3.41 crore to the HSDC on account of bank interest alone on the carried over stocks. In addition, HSDC also suffered loss on account of storage, fumigation expenses and revalidation charges. Khemka has also been charged with causing a financial loss of Rs 45 lakh to HSDC by supplying 34,249 quintals of certified wheat seed out of the state on which the cost of Raxil fungicide incurred by HSDC was not recovered.
The then agriculture minister, Paramvir Singh had in March 2013 written a note to know the reasons for the huge unsold stocks of wheat seeds by the HSDC during 2012-13 and also the quantity of wheat seed sold from 2008-09 to 2012-13. Singh also desired that responsibility in this regard should be fixed. After seeking Khemka’s comments on the issue, the agriculture department said from 2007-08 to 2012-13, the percentage of sales of certified wheat seed by HSDC was the lowest (72%) during Khemka’s tenure. It was 97.5 % in 2007-08, 86.2% in 2008-09, 99.9% in 2009-10, 100% in 2010-11, 98% in 2011-12 and 72 % in 2012-13.
“It is evident that Khemka as the then MD of the corporation was responsible for the poor sales of certified wheat seed during 2012-13. HSDC was left with a more than 87,000 quintals of seed worth Rs 22 crore. Such a huge unsold stock has damaged the already precarious financial position of HSDC beyond redemption. The corporation is already running in overdraft of more than Rs 30 crore (in 2013) and suffering a huge liability on account of interest and carrying cost on the huge unsold stocks of wheat seed. The corporation has already initiated disciplinary action against the erring staff for poor sales. Khemka is also responsible for the poor sales during 2012-13 and appropriate action should be taken against him,’’ said a department note of June 2013.
Witch hunt, hounding by inimical elements: Khemka
After the charge sheet was served on him, the IAS officer on July 8 wrote to the chief secretary, stating that allegations in the charge sheet were nothing but a continuation of the witch hunt and hounding by same inimical elements who were complicit with the earlier political executive in various scams. “The intention behind the present disciplinary proceeding is to coerce and prevent me from deposing the truth in criminal cases and before inquiry commissions,’’ he wrote.
What is minor penalty?
It includes censure, withholding of promotion, recovery from the pay of the whole or part of pecuniary loss caused to the government, withholding of increments of pay, reduction to a lower stage in the time scale of pay for a period not exceeding three years, without cumulative effect and not adversely affecting his pension.