Tuesday, 5 January 2016

New Year gift: After 46 transfers in 22 years, Khemka promoted as principal secretary

Chandigarh: The New Year has brought cheer for whistleblower IAS officer Ashok Khemka with the Haryana government promoting him to the post of principal secretary. A departmental promotion committee (DPC), headed by Haryana chief secretary D S Dhesi, took the decision on Thursday.

The 50-year-old bureaucrat had grabbed headlines after he cancelled a controversial land deal involving Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra's firm and real estate giant DLF in 2012. Khemka reacted with a tweet, "Awaiting posting on promotion to the rank of principal secretary."
Then Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government had chargesheeted Khemka for "wrongly" cancelling the mutation of land deal. With the change of guard, the BJP government on November 4, 2015, had dropped the chargesheet paving the way for his promotion.

Khemka had cancelled the mutation of Vadra's land deal on grounds that the assistant consolidation officer, who had sanctioned the change of title in the revenue record in favour of DLF, was not competent to do so.

Not only that, Khemka had also directed the deputy commissioners of Palwal, Faridabad, Mewat and Gurgaon to probe whether the stamp duty was paid in the land deals of Vadra executed after 2005. Then Hooda government had accused Khemka of "administrative misconduct for overstepping jurisdiction" in passing orders to cancel the mutation of 3.5 acres of land in Gurgaon's Shikohpur village.

Friday's order has introduced a condition in Khemka's promotion order. "The promotion of Ashok Khemka shall be subject to the final assessment of his performance appraisal report for 2012-13 (Oct 15, 2012, to March 31, 2013) as per the provisions of Rule 9 of All India Services (PAR) Rules, after the submission of report by state vigilance bureau in inquiry number 9 of September 5, 2013," the chief secretary said in the order.

The vigilance bureau in 2013 had initiated a probe in the alleged irregularities in the purchase of 10,000 quintals 'moong' (green gram) during Khemka's tenure in the Haryana Seed Development Corporation (HSDC). Khemka had termed the allegations baseless, adding that they had saved Rs 30 lakh by purchasing the pulse at the rate of Rs 8,100 per quintal in comparison to previous rate of Rs 8,400. Even after more than two years of the probe being launched, the report is still pending.

At present, Khemka is looking after the state archaeology and museums department. Khemka has faced 46 transfers in 22 years of his service despite the fact that he received outstanding rankings in most of his ACRs (annual confidential reports), apart from four appreciation letters from the governments of the day.