Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka has been rated as “outstanding” by the state government in its appraisal of the officer for the period during which he had cancelled the land mutation between Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and realty giant DLF.
The state has given him a score of 8.1 out of 10, which is considered “outstanding” as per the government’s rules, although the score is lower by Khemka’s standards as he has been averaging nearly 9.5 in his career, according to sources. The previous state government had refused to appraise him for this period, which implies a score of zero.
The development has given Khemka a double reason to rejoice especially as the Manohar Lal Khattar government this week also decided to drop the charge-sheet against him issued by the previous government. Khemka was charge-sheeted in December 2013 after he had cancelled the mutation of a land deal between Vadra’s firm Skylight Hospitality and DLF. He was issued charge-sheet for six offences, which included allegedly exceeding jurisdiction by cancelling the mutation and delayed relinquishing of charge after his transfer and issuing erroneous orders. However, the chief secretary this week dropped all proceedings against him saying that after consideration of his reply and evidence, it was felt that the charges could not be proved against him.
Khemka tweeted that the news was like “sweet music” to his ears. Khemka has been hoping for this order ever since the BJP government came to power in October last year. He was called by the Chief Minister last month to “explain” his reply, following which the CM passed orders to drop the charge-sheet.
The appraisal came after a lot of struggle, say sources. The previous government hadn’t done his appraisal for the six-month period from 1 April 2012 to 15 October 2012. Khemka had represented to the chief secretary, saying that while he got outstanding grading from 2007-08 to 2011-12, his performance was not assessed for this period which included the period of his action in the Vadra-DLF deal.
“This omission seems to be deliberate to victimise me because the reporting period coincided with the actions taken by me against several land scams, including massive corruption combining land-licensing and land-releases forcing landowner/farmers to undertake distress sale of their farmland to the builder mafia,” he had stated. P.K. Gupta, the previous chief secretary, had held that it was Khemka’s right to be appraised, but the present chief secretary D.H. Dhesi had reservations.
Sources said he wrote to Government of India, while Khemka represented against this move of the CS. The Government of India ruled in Khemka’s favour and asked the state government to set up a panel of two other officers, Dalip Singh and Ram Niwas.