The Haryana government has asserted that IAS officer Ashok Khemka, who had ordered a probe into Robert Vadra’s land dealings, was shifted in compliance with the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and there are no other grounds of transfer.
In a statement on Tuesday, Haryana said that though it did not agree with Mr. Khemka’s arguments on Mr. Vadra’s land deals, it had ordered an inquiry into all the issues raised by the officer.
A committee, headed by the Additional Chief Secretary and comprising two senior members of the State government, had been mandated to ‘look into the legality of actions taken by the officials concerned, including acts of omissions and commission, if any’ and complete a report within a month.
The government maintained that the officer himself had asked to be relieved of the charge of Special Collector, which is “traditionally held by Director, Consolidation.”
A government spokesperson said Mr. Khemka’s transfer request came up during the hearing of a criminal writ petition in the High Court which, on October 1, ordered the government to appoint another officer to the post.
The spokesperson said Mr. Khemka had tried to link the transfer to certain actions that he took on subsequent dates without any basis.
“As a matter of fact, as far back as August 1, 2012, he had written to the Chief Secretary, requesting withdrawal of one of the charges held by him on the ground that his orders are appealable to officers junior to him. Mr. Khemka wrote to the Chief Secretary again on October 12, 2012, protesting against his transfer wherein he never mentioned that the reason for his transfer was attributable to the matter relating to the cancellation of mutation ordered by him.”
The spokesperson said the orders regarding the alleged undervaluation of property bought by Mr. Vadra were issued on October 12 and the cancellation of mutation was ordered on October 15 while he was transferred on October 11.
Power to register documents
On the other issues concerning Mr. Khemka, the spokesperson said a tehsildar, being tehsildar-cum-consolidation officer, had powers to register documents in the capacity as sub-registrar and no separate permission from the Consolidation Officer was required.
Contesting the cancellation of mutation order issued by Mr. Khemka, the spokesperson said:
“The Director-General, Consolidation, has issued orders under Section 42 of the Land Consolidation Act, 1948, which is a judicial process and thus has to act according to the provisions of the Act and should have issued notices to the parties concerned and a chance of presenting their case individually or through counsel and then adjudicate the matter and pass the final speaking orders. This process has not been followed.
“This is a 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.”
The spokesperson contested the allegation of undervaluation of property registered by Mr. Vadra and maintained that the value of the property registered between Sky Light Hospitality Pvt. Ltd. and DLF Universal and subsequent transfer of the land was ‘way higher’ than the collector rates and there was no loss to the exchequer.