Senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka has been charge sheeted by Haryana government in connection with cancellation of land deal between Robert Vadra and DLF in October last year, a move which BJP and INLD said amounted to punishing an "honest" bureaucrat for "exposing scams".
The charge sheet was delivered at Khemka's residence in his absence on Wednesday and the 1991-batch IAS officer has been given a fortnight to reply, official sources said on Thursday.
The seven-page charge sheet against the bureaucrat, who is at present Secretary to Haryana Government's Archives Department, mainly dealt with the issue of alleged administrative misconduct and damage caused to the reputation of Vadra and realty giant DLF.
It also touched upon issues relating to his going to the media after cancellation of the mutation, criticising the state government's policy and not immediately giving up charge of his post despite having been transferred, they said.
Hitting back at the state authorities, Khemka said it was unprecedented that the document had been "forcibly" handed over to his minor son in his absence.
In a strongly worded letter to Chief Secretary P K Chaudhery this evening, the officer said he was on outstation leave to Delhi from the afternoon of December 4 to the forenoon of December 5 and his minor son was forced to accept delivery of the packet containing the charge sheet at 8:30 PM on December 4 on his behalf.
BJP and INLD, principal opposition parties in Haryana, reacted sharply to the serving of the charge sheet on Khemka, saying an "honest and upright officer is being punished for doing his duty and exposing scams".
While INLD's state unit chief Ashok Arora said, "Khemka has been punished for exposing the land scams involving high and mighty", senior BJP leader Anil Vij told reporters that "an honest and upright officer has been punished and harassed for just doing his job."
Vij said, "BJP is fully behind Khemka and we praise him for the courage he has shown to expose the land scams." The IAS officer had cancelled the mutation on October 15, 2012, which the state government had alleged was an administratively improper step since he stood transferred as Managing Director of Haryana Seed Development Corporation. He had also been accused of selectively singling out a particular mutation.
Asked to comment on the charge sheet, the Chief Secretary told reporters that it was a "personnel matter".
Another senior Haryana government official maintained that the state authorities did not believe in targeting or acting out of vindictiveness against any of its officials.
In his letter, Khemka said that the "modus operandi of serving the charge sheet in the night at the residence upon a minor member of the family is unprecedented" and sought to know from the state government through RTI Act the list of IAS officers who were charge sheeted in the last 10 years along with imputations and articles of charge.
"How was the service of the charge sheet effected upon the officer, i.e., the place, the time and the person to whom the charge sheet was served," he said.
In October this year, the Haryana government had decided to charge sheet Khemka, who claims to have been transferred more than 40 times during his career so far, for alleged administrative misconduct in cancelling the mutation of the land deal.
The officer has been held liable for alleged administrative misconduct for overstepping jurisdiction in passing orders to cancel the mutation of 3.5 acre land in Gurgaon's Shikohpur village. The land was sold by Vadra's Sky Light Hospitality to DLF.
The charge sheet is understood to have mentioned the clean chit given to the Rs 58-crore land deal by a committee which was formed by the Haryana government last year to probe the orders of Khemka in the wake of his decision to cancel the mutation of the land.
The committee had held that there was no undervaluation of land for payment of stamp duty on land registration as alleged and had put the IAS officer in the dock for acting beyond the authority vested in him.