Under fire over the transfer of senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka in the wake of the Robert Vadra land row, Haryana government on Tuesday said there was no malafide intention in its decision even as it ordered an inquiry into issues raised by the officer.
A senior IAS officer, in the Land Registration Department Ashok Khemka, who had ordered a probe into the land deals between Vadra and DLF on October 8, has been transferred as the DG Haryana Seed Development Corporation. ANI
Khemka, who was removed as Inspector general of registration after he ordered a probe into all the land dealings of Vadra, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law in four districts of Haryana, said it was "grossly unfair to punish him for being upright and exposing the scams".
Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh, Haryana chief secretary PK Chaudhary said there was "no malice or malafide intention" in the decision to transfer Khemka.
The state government had acted in pursuance to the direction of the Punjab and Haryana high court, he said while refuting Khemka's allegations of harassment.
"The preliminary facts brought to the notice of the state government by the district revenue authority at Gurgaon point out that prima-facie the factual position is different from the stand taken by Khemka."
He said, "The state government has nonetheless ordered an inquiry into all the issues raised by Shri Khemka."
The inquiry committee will be headed by additional chief secretary and will have two other senior members of the state government, Chaudhary said, adding it has been asked to completed its task within one month.
"The inquiry committee will look into legality of actions taken by officials concerned, including acts of omissions and commissions, if any," he said.
On the other hand, senior Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka is reportedly receiving threat calls from unknown people.
"I met him and he told me that he has received some phone calls in which people have threatened him and asked him to stop his activities," Khemka's friend and noted lawyer, Anupam Gupta said.
The callers asked him to desist or else he would be eliminated. He further told me that those threatening him also talked about having given a 'supari' to eliminate him, Gupta said.
He said that if the calls persist then Khemka may think of moving the Court to seek security.
Earlier on Tuesday, when asked if he was under any kind of pressure from politicians or senior bureaucrats, Khemka replied, "they know what type of person I am and I don't accept any pressure".
However, in his letter to chief secretary PK Chaudhery last week, a day after his transfer on October 11, Khemka wrote, "my family feels threatened due to certain vested elements whose interests were adversely affected by the exposure of scams in this Department (last posting). I plead for security and fixed tenure in a cadre post befitting my seniority".
Khemka, who was removed as inspector general of registration in the wake of his ordering a probe into all the land dealings of Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law in four districts of Haryana, has hit back at the government saying it was "grossly unfair to punish him for being upright and exposing the scams".
Hooda assures of action
Refuting IAS officer Ashok Khemka's charges that his transfer was done with malafide intention, Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Tuesday said action will be taken against anyone found guilty if the bureaucrat's assertions on land deals are found true.
"I have asked the chief secretary to examine the whole matter," Hooda said.
He said that action will be taken if the points raised by Khemka are found to be true and vice versa.
"The state government acts in a neutral manner and does not favour anyone or punish anyone without fault," he said.
Hooda rejected the charge that Khemka's transfer was some kind of punishment awarded to him, saying "there is no truth in this".
"It (transfer) is prerogative of the state government," Hooda told reporters in Panchkula, where he had gone to pay obeisance at the Mata Mansa Devi shrine on the first day of the auspicious Navratras.
He also interacted with reporters outside a Gurudwara in Panchkula later.
Meanwhile, reacting to the Khemka's assertions, former chief minister and INLD president, Om Prakash Chautala said he was an upright and honest IAS officer and there should be a thorough probe into the charges he has levelled.
"We have been saying over the years that the Hooda government is a government of realtors and property dealers. What Khemka is now saying, we have been saying this for a long time. Chief Minister Hooda finds himself neck-deep in scams and everyone knows that he is there as long as Congress President wants him to be. So how could the chief minister have displeased Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law (Vadra)," Chautala told reporters.
Chautala demanded that the chief minister should immediately step down on moral grounds.
State BJP leader Anil Vij also called for a high level independent probe into Khemka's assertions.
He also sat on a dharna here to press for his demand.
Last week, the Haryana government had rejected activist Arvind Kejriwal's charge about a nexus between state officials and DLF.
The 45-year-old IAS officer Khemka is at the centre of a raging controversy after he was transferred in the wake of his decision to probe alleged undervaluation of properties dealt with by Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
The state government also rejected Kejriwal's allegation that 350 acres of government land was given to DLF by rejecting the bids of two construction majors even without opening their technical bids, saying this was "baseless".
Director General of Haryana Town and Country Planning and Urban Estates Department T C Gupta and Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructural Development Corporation's (HSIIDC) Managing Director Rajeev Arora had denied any nexus between the state officials and DLF.