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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

NDA wants Khemka to work for Centre

Hitender Rao, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, July 15, 2014
First Published: 23:04 IST(15/7/2014) | Last Updated: 14:09 IST(21/7/2014)

The Civil Services Board (CSB) headed by union cabinet secretary Ajit Kumar Seth is understood to have cleared the name of Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka for central deputation despite the officer facing a chargesheet for major penalty and a vigilance probe.

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Officials said that this was quite unprecedented since an officer facing a major penalty chargesheet and a vigilance inquiry is normally not cleared for central deputation. "The state government has not given him a vigilance clearance," a Haryana official said.

The CSB nod means that Khemka's name will now be put on the offer list for central staffing scheme. However, the appointments committee of the cabinet (ACC) headed by the Prime Minister will still have to clear his case for a central deputation.

The IAS officer, who was empanelled as joint secretary in the Government of India during the reign of Congress-led UPA government, however, was not picked up for a central assignment earlier.

Khemka, a 1991-batch Haryana cadre IAS officer had created a furore when in 2012 he cancelled the mutation of 3.5 acres in Gurgaon's Shikohpur village, the tract that was sold by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's businessman son-in-law Robert Vadra to realty major DLF.

Last September, the state government ordered that Khemka be chargesheeted for major penalty under Rule 8 of the All-India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules. He was held liable for administrative misconduct for overstepping jurisdiction in passing orders to cancel the mutation of the 3.5 acres and indulging in public criticism of the actions and policies of the state government.

Also, the state government ordered a probe by the state vigilance bureau against Khemka for alleged irregularities in the purchase of 10,000 quintal of moong (green gram) seed during his tenure as managing director in Haryana Seed Development Corporation (HSDC). Khemka's supporters, however, say that these actions were intended to harass him.

A committee of officers constituted by the government to ascertain facts and inquire into the Shikohpur matter to ascertain acts of omission and commission by various authorities involved had also termed Khemka's orders as inappropriate and without jurisdiction.

In May 2013, Khemka submitted a detailed response on the findings of the committee, justifying his October 2012 orders. In his 100-page response, the IAS officer besides levelling serious allegations against two members of the committee also changed tack to question the manner in which the sale of the 3.5 acres from Onkareshwar Properties to Vadra's Sky Light Hospitality took place, terming it a "sham transaction". He had also questioned the issuance of a commercial colony licence granted to Sky Light Hospitality by the town and country planning department.

Through a rocky road
October 12, 2012: Khemka orders inquiry into alleged undervaluation of 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 constitutes three-member committee to inquire matter.

December 28: Committee submits report, terms Khemka's orders without jurisdiction

March 1, 2013: Government seeks Khemka's comments

May 21: Khemka submits his response to chief secretary

September: Disciplinary action recommended against Khemka September 26: CM orders action under major penalty clause

January 2014: Haryana decides CBI to probe allotment of a work order to an Ahmedabad-based company by Khemka during his tenure as MD Warehousing Corporation in 2009. Later, holds back the decision in view of special audit by CAG.

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