Robert Vadra land row: Haryana govt forms probe panel
Chandigarh: Under fire over the transfer of senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka in the wake of the Robert Vadra land row, Haryana government on Tuesday said there was no malafide intention in its decision even as it ordered an inquiry into issues raised by the officer.
Khemka, who was removed as Inspector General of Registration after he ordered a probe into all the land dealings of Vadra, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law in four districts of Haryana, said it was "grossly unfair to punish him for being upright and exposing the scams".
Addressing a press conference here, Haryana Chief Secretary P K Chaudhary said there was "no malice or malafide intention" in the decision to transfer Khemka.
The state government had acted in pursuance to the direction of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, he said while refuting Khemka's allegations of harassment.
"The preliminary facts brought to the notice of the State Government by the District Revenue Authority at Gurgaon point out that prima-facie the factual position is different from the stand taken by Khemka."
He said, "The State Government has nonetheless ordered an inquiry into all the issues raised by Shri Khemka."
The Inquiry Committee will be headed by Additional Chief Secretary and will have two other senior members of the State Government, Chaudhary said, adding it has been asked to complete its task within one month.
"The Inquiry Committee will look into legality of actions taken by officials concerned, including acts of omissions and commissions, if any," he said.
"The transfer of Mr.Khemka was in compliance with the
directions of the Hon'ble High Court. And, there is no question of either haste or any malice on the part of the government," Choudhary said.
Dismissing Khemka's charge that he was shunted out because he had ordered a probe on land deals involving Vadra, he said the transfer order was issued on October 11 while Khemka gave his direction on October 15.
"So, the question of these being the reasons of his transfer does not arise. Secondly in the representation which Mr.Khemka made, he never made any mention of his order which he had issued," Chaudhary said.
Refuting the allegation of undervaluation of property registered, Chaudhary said a detailed report was obtained from Tehsildar-cum-Registrar, Manesar through Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon of property registered between Vadra's M/s Sky Light Hospitality Pvt. Ltd. And M/s DLF Universal.
He said that as per the report the sale deed and subsequent transfer of the land were way higher than the collector rates. Hence, no loss to revenue of the State has been caused by these sale deeds, he claimed.
Chaudhary also contradicted Khemka by contending that no separate permission from Consolidation Officer was required as Tehsildar has powers to register documents in the capacity as sub-registrar.
Allegations have been made regarding the jurisdiction issue of the sale deed. It is clarified that the Tehsildars have been conferred with the powers of Consolidation Officers across the State of Haryana through a notification on November 1, 2008, he said.
He said that this co-terminus power was given to Tehsildars across the State with an intention to avoid any hardship to buyers & sellers.
Chaudhary said that on the point of sanctioning of the mutation by the Assistant Consolidation Officer, it has been the practice across the State and the Assistant Consolidation Officers have been sanctioning the mutation after due verification of the records.
He also said that Assistant Consolidation Officer, Gurgaon, over the period of almost 15 months after the notification has sanctioned about 150 mutations in the village Shikhopur along with the one involving Vadra.
"This process has not been followed. This is clear cut violation of the provisions of the Act and principles of natural justice. Without giving an opportunity of being heard the matter cannot be adjudicated as has been done in this case," he said.
Khemka had on August 1 this year requested the Chief Secretary to withdraw one of the responsibilities held by him.
The issue came up before the High Court which ordered that a decision be taken as early as possible to either give charge to some officer, who can competently exercise the powers of a Special Collector or to appoint somebody on the post not as in any officiating or temporary capacity.
Since the charge of Special Collector has been traditionally held by the Director Consolidation, the State Government ordered transfer of Khemka to ensure that the work of the department is not hampered. "There are no other grounds of transfer of Khemka" he said.
Khemka an IAS Officer of Haryana Cadre posted as Director Consolidation and Special Collector was transferred on October 11, 2012 from this post and posted as Managing Director Haryana Seeds Development Corporation, Chuadhary said.
Asked if any action could be taken against Khemka for having gone to the media in violation of the Civil Services Conduct rules, he said he would not like to make any comment on this issue at this moment.
Asked about the Inquiry Committee having been given one month time, Chaudhary said that for them it was not an "emotional issue to be decided in a hurry."
He said that the state government would wait for the report of the three member Inquiry Committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary with two Senior Officers of the rank of Financial Commissioner as its members. "We do not want to take any step in hurry," Chaudhary added.