Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Wednesday scoffed at the remarks IAS officer Ashok Khemka made during an interview to a magazine that before demitting office as chief minister, Hooda had apologised for the hardships he had caused to him.
In an interview to The Week, Khemka has been quoted as saying: “I had gone to visit him (Hooda) in keeping with my usual practice of saying goodbye to chief ministers I work with. He apologised for the hardships he caused me and requested me to tender an apology so that he could withdraw the state government’s chargesheet against me. I refused. He seemed truly repentant.”
Speaking to HT over phone, the former chief minister said: “His remarks on my apologising to him are factually incorrect. In fact, it is absurd. Why would I apologise to Khemka? We chargesheeted him for exceeding his jurisdiction and other misconduct on the basis of a report of a committee of officers.”
Hooda said that Khemka had sought an appointment from him on October 16, 2014. “If any officer comes to me, I always listen to him. But there was no apology or expression of repentance from my side. It is quite ridiculous,’’ Hooda said.
Asked whether Khemka had requested him to drop his chargesheet and file the ongoing Vigilance inquiry against him during the October 16 meeting, Hooda said he would not like to go into these details. But the former chief minister also did not deny this.
Khemka was chargesheeted by the Congress government under Hooda in 2013 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 3.5 acres in Gurgaon’s Shikohpur village, the land that was sold by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s businessman son-in-law Robert Vadra to realty major DLF and indulging in public criticism of the actions and policies of the state government.
The IAS officer after being transferred on October 11, 2012, from the post of director general, consolidation of holdings (DGCH), and inspector general, registration, had on October 12 and 15 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 of 3.5 acres, respectively. Passing orders after he was transferred, as per the state government, constituted an administrative misconduct. A committee of officers constituted by the government to ascertain facts and inquire into the matter to ascertain acts of omission and commission by various authorities involved had termed Khemka’s orders as inappropriate and without jurisdiction. Khemka has also been held liable for his public criticism of the actions and policies of the state government during the course of these developments.