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Rediff.com  » News » Govt can do ANYTHING: IAS who probed Vadra deal

Govt can do ANYTHING: IAS who probed Vadra deal

October 18, 2012 10:08 IST

Indian Administrative Service officer Ashok Khemka is tired of talking about his latest transfer -- allegedly his 42nd one.
Khemka was reportedly transferred after he -- as the director general of consolidation of land holdings and land records --- started probing a land deal between realty giant DLF and businessman Robert Vadra.

Khemka is now in charge of the Haryana Seeds Development Corporation. He joined Beej Bhawan on October 15, after a controversial transfer order late on October 11, which put the Haryana government in a fix and him amidst glaring media spotlight.

Khemka is now trying to get on with his life. He wants to "focus on the new appointment".

He is visibly fatigued from the inexplicable transfer and its aftermath. "If a girl is raped, and people ask her again and again what she has gone through, it makes no sense," he says.

Khemka has been transferred a mind-boggling 42 times in a career spanning 21 years.

Incidentally, as per IAS regulations, an officer in a post of the level held by Khemka should enjoy a minimum tenure of two years in each posting.

"But it's the government; it can do anything," he says.

But Khemka still can't fathom the urgency with which the transfer orders were delivered to him.

"They could have handed out the orders in the morning (of October 12). What was the hurry," he asks.

The very next day, Khemka wrote a letter to Haryana government's Chief Secretary P K Chaudhery.

The letter to protest his transfer, under the subject line Abrupt Transfer, alleged that the order "seems deliberate and mala fide to punish me due to some vested elements in the political-bureaucratic hierarchy affected by the exposure of scams in consolidation under the garb of exercise of powers under Section 42 of the Consolidation Act".

In the letter, Khemka stated, "During inspection of land records, it was discovered that thousands of acres of panchayat land, after illegally mutations in favour of owners, were subsequently partitioned into small parcels and sold away".

The IAS officer also pointed out that there were other ways in which possession rights of panchayat land were being transferred in an unauthorised way in various districts of Haryana, including Faridabad.  

This is not the first time Khemka has paid for just trying to do his job.

He was shuttled out from the post of managing director of Hartron, an electronics development corporation under the aegis of the Haryana government, equally abruptly.

"I was given a humiliating marching order within 50 days of working there," he said, adding, "Even there, corrupt activities within the organisation were exposed.'

At Hartron, Khemka exposed a 'nexus' that would award software development assignments to selected companies at inflated prices of Rs 25 lakh to Rs 50 lakh, when, says Khemka "the rudimentary assignment could be completed in-house within a few days".

Khemka stirred up a hornet's nest again when he started looking too closely at a sale deed of 3.53 acres of land in Shikohpur village in Gurgaon.

The land was owned Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra's Sky Light Hospitality.

On September 18 this year, this land was sold to DLF Universal for Rs 58 crore.

A few days later, Khemka received transfer orders. The very next day, he started an inquiry into the 'under-valuation of some properties registered by Robert Vadra or his companies'.

In a letter written on October 12, Khemka argues that the "transfer of property during pendency of consolidation proceedings without the sanction of the consolidation officer is prohibited under Section 30 of the Consolidation Act".

He also "set aside the mutation of the village Shikohpur on grounds that the assistant consolidation officer who had sanctioned the mutation was not competent to do so".

He also sent out an order to deputy commissioners-cum-registrars of districts -- Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Mewat -- to "inspect all documents registered from January 1, 2005 on behalf of Robert Vadra".

But his transfer orders had already been delivered to him, and a few days later he took over his new job.

"I felt humiliated after I was transferred from that assignment," he says.

The Haryana government has argued that it's the state government's prerogative to place transfer orders. Khemka now refuses to comment on this response.

Not surprisingly, he has received threats to his life.

"It is not just about me. I have my family too," he says.

For a few days after he started probing the land deal, Khemka received calls threatening his life. Those days, he says, were emotionally and mentally draining.

But Khemka refuses to ask for additional security.

"I don't want any thing like that to affect my family. I just want to live in peace and do my work," he says.

Priyanka