The Chandigarh bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) on Tuesday reserved the petition filed by senior bureaucrat Ashok Khemka challenging the orders issued by the Haryana chief secretary wherein the latter withdrew the leave travel concession (LTC) that was sanctioned in favour of Khemka for visiting his home town, Kolkata, along with his mother. The order is likely to be pronounced in a week.
During the last hearing on February 1, CAT had asked the Haryana government to inform what action had been taken against the then chief secretary for granting leave travel concession (LTC) to Ashok Khemka in 2013.
The tribunal had sought response from the state and the Centre after hearing the arguments forwarded by the council appearing for the Haryana government wherein it was contested that the earlier order which sanctioned LTC to Khemka was wrong.
Since the reply was not filed by the Centre, Khemka called the government “vindictive” and accused it of “witch-hunting” because of the previous cases of irregularities he had brought to light.
While the state submitted its response, Arvind Moudgil, senior panel council, appearing on behalf of the department of personnel and training (DoPT), Government of India, pleaded no instructions stating that he couldn’t file the reply since he hasn’t received any instructions from the Centre in this regard.
The chief secretary Haryana vide order dated June 1, 2016, had asked Khemka to deposit the amount of LTC reimbursed within one month on the grounds that the sanction issued in 2013 was against provisions of All India Services (LTC) and Central Civil Services (CCS) (LTC) Rules 1975. The Centre has already informed the tribunal that Khemka was not entitled to LTC as per rules.
Talking to HT, Khemka said, “They are hounding me and trying to get even so that all other scams can go under the carpet. But they have no right to harass me or name-call my mother or me.”
He told the court, “I don’t want charity, I want dignity,” further criticising the government’s rationale for allowing one month gross salary to the members of All India Services serving in the state without travel. Khemka had earlier argued that the state government was fully competent to sanction LTC to All India Services officers serving in the state.
Under the provision to Rule 3(2) of the All India Services (LTC) Rules, 1975, the concession to a member of the service serving in the state shall not be inferior to the Central Civil Services (LTC) Rules, 1988, he contended.
“The self-aggrandising policy has been framed by the chief secretary Haryana without approval of (DoPT) under which I would be entitled to Rs 2.1 lakh without incurring any expenditure on travel. But I am being mentally harassed after three years for a mere Rs 12,397 as reimbursement for expenditure incurred in travel from Chandigarh to Kolkata and back,” Khemka had earlier argued.
Khemka had applied for sanction of LTC in favour of his dependent mother for visiting his home town, Kolkata, from December 12, 2013 to April 30, 2014 for the sub-block 2014-15. A relaxation was sought to advance the date of commencement of the outward journey to December 12, 2013 on the ground of hardship caused due to her health, as being old she could not bear the harsh winter in north India.
On October 14, 2013, the then chief secretary PK Chaudhary allowed relaxation to advance the outward journey by 20 days as requested by Khemka.
However, on June 1, 2016, the present chief secretary directed Khemka to deposit the amount of LTC reimbursed within one month.
In his reply dated September 2, 2016 in reference to the order dated June 1, 2016 Khemka had mentioned that “the health condition of her mother was deteriorating due to the daily threats, witchhunting and hounding after the order cancelling the Wadra-DLF land deal mutation was passed on October 15, 2012”.