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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Haryana charges Khemka in Vadra-DLF land deal

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, December 05, 2013
First Published: 11:08 IST(5/12/2013) | Last Updated: 19:31 IST(6/12/2013)

Senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka has been charged by Haryana government with overstepping his official brief in cancelling a land deal involving UPA president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra and realty major DLF.

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The seven-page chargesheet, which holds him liable on seven counts, also says he resorted to administrative misconduct by criticising the actions and policies of the state government in public.

The chargesheet was delivered at Khemka's residence - to his minor son - in his absence on Wednesday.

The 1991-batch IAS officer, who has been transferred more than 40 times in his 22-year career, objected to this mode of chargesheet delivery.

In a strongly worded letter to chief secretary PK Chaudhery on Thursday, Khemka said his minor son was forced to accept delivery of the packet.

"I am not a fugitive and on duty today in the office. The chargesheet could have been served upon me in the office."

Khemka, who has been given a fortnight to reply to the chargesheet, also took offence to the chargesheet making its way to a vernacular newspaper even before it was served on him.

"It is unfortunate that a vernacular newspaper was provided a copy of the chargesheet on December 4 evening, even before the chargesheet was validly served upon me."

He alleged the leakage was a deliberate ploy to malign him because he had exposed "the rentier-capitalist business model" of a member from the ruling political family.

Khemka said allegations had been cooked up regarding his tenures at Haryana Seeds Development Corporation and Haryana State Warehousing Corporation without giving him any opportunity to explain.

Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had on September 26 approved disciplinary action against Khemka.

According to the chargesheet, Khemka was transferred on October 11, 2012, from the post of director general consolidation of holdings (DGCH) and inspector general registration.

But on October 12 and 15, he ordered an inquiry into the alleged undervaluation of assets owned by Vadra or his companies in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Mewat districts and set aside the mutation (transfer of title of a property in revenue records) of 3.5 acres sold by Vadra to DLF in Gurgaon's Shikohpur village.

The chargesheet said he abused his official position because he had not relinquished the post when he passed these orders, had no jurisdiction to cancel the mutation and did not give the affected parties an opportunity to respond. He also singled out this particular mutation, the chargesheet said.

It also quotes the clean chit given to the Rs. 58-crore land deal by a committee formed by the government last year to probe Khemka's cancellation orders.

The government is also learnt to be preparing a second chargesheet against Khemka for alleged low sale of wheat seeds during his tenure in Haryana Seed Development Corporation as its managing director from October 15, 2012 to April 4 this year.

Once the government receives Khemka's reply, it may appoint an inquiry officer and then seek the advice of the Union Public Service Commission before initiating action under Rule 8 of the All-India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules for major penalty.

Subhead: BJP, INLD slam government
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), principal opposition parties in Haryana, reacted sharply to the serving of the chargesheet on Khemka, saying an honest and upright officer was being punished for doing his duty and exposing scams.

BJP leader Anil Vij said, "An honest and upright officer has been punished and harassed for just doing his job."

INLD state unit chief Ashok Arora said, "Khemka has been punished for exposing the land scams involving high and mighty."

Timeline

October 11, 2012: Khemka transferred to HSDC as its managing director, but does not relinquish charge as director general consolidation of holdings

October 12, 2012: Orders inquiry into alleged undervaluation of Robert Vadra-owned properties in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Mewat.

October 15: Orders setting aside of mutation for 3.5 acres in Gurgaon’s Shikohpur village

October 19: Haryana orders constitution of a three-member panel to inquire into the matter

December 28: The panel submits report, says Khemka had no jurisdiction to pass orders

March 1, 2013: Government seeks Khemka’s comments on the report

May 21: Khemka submits his response to the chief secretary

September: Revenue department and town and country planning departments submit their response. Disciplinary action recommended against Khemka.

September 26: Chief Minister orders action under major penalty clause against Khemka

December 4: Statement containing articles of charges (chargesheet) served at Khemka’s residence

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