Ashok Khemka, the Haryana IAS officer who had cancelled a land mutation in Shikohpur village of Gurgaon — sold by Robert Vadra to DLF Ltd — has alleged that the Haryana government, in order to protect Mr. Vadra, is now misleading the Punjab and Haryana High Court which is looking into a case struck down by Khemka on similar grounds. One of the grounds under which Mr Khemka had set aside Mr Vadra’s mutation of the land deal was that the assistant consolidation officer (ACO) who had sanctioned the mutation was not competent to do so, as he does not have the powers of assistant collector of second grade, under the Punjab Land Revenue Act 1887.
‘Mutation’ is the legal term for substitution of the name of one person by the name of another in the record showing right or title to the property.
In February 2011, the same ACO had made another allegedly fraudulent entry in the land records of village Chirsi in Faridabad district, according favour to an influential chartered accountant to enable him to take possession of 6.5 acres. This was struck down by Mr. Khemka in September last year, following which it was challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The state, in its reply to the court in December, while admitting the land scam and the wrong order of the ACO, did not, according to Mr Khemka, “tender a truthful and correct reply to the query of the high Court on whether the ACO is conferred with the powers of the assistant collector of second grade.”
Recent media reports had said that an enquiry committee constituted by the Haryana government had concluded that the order of Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka cancelling a land mutation involving Robert Vadra was “inappropriate and without jurisdiction.” But Khemka has hit back saying that the Haryana government is selectively leaking reports and charged that the government was misleading the Punjab and Haryana High Court in another case with the aim of protecting Mr. Vadra.
One of the grounds under which Mr. Khemka had set aside Mr. Vadra’s mutation of the land deal was that the assistant consolidation officer (ACO) who had sanctioned the mutation was not competent to do so, as he does not have the powers of assistant collector of second grade, under the Punjab Land Revenue Act 1887.
In February 2011, the ACO who had permitted the Vadra sale made an allegedly fraudulent entry in the land records of village Chirsi in Faridabad district, allowing an influential chartered accountant to take possession of 6.5 acres. This was struck down by Mr. Khemka in September last year, following which it was challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Mr. Khemka followed it up by chargesheeting the ACO Dalbir Singh and also shot off a departmental note to the Financial Commissioner Revenue in which he pointed out that the ACO is related to a powerful minister while the beneficiary is close to some IAS officers. “The racket would have netted an illegal gain of Rs 3-4 crores to the racketeering civil servants. I request that it be placed before the Chief Minister for his knowledge,” Mr. Khemka wrote, adding that he is “being threatened with adverse action in case he acts against the racketeering.”
The State, in its reply to the court in December, while admitting the land scam and the patent wrong order of the ACO, did not, according to Mr. Khemka, “tender a truthful and correct reply to the query of the high Court on whether the ACO is conferred with the powers of the assistant collector of second grade.”
The government, in its reply has defended the powers of ACO, citing that he was conferred with the powers of AC IInd grade by virtue of a notification dated 1st Dec, 1942. Mr. Khemka has contested this by pointing out that the notification of 1.12.1942 is irrelevant. The notification of 1.12.1942 empowered the then consolidation tehsildars and consolidation naib tehsildars working in the cooperative department of Punjab province of pre-independence India for consolidating land holdings of registered cooperative societies in just two districts of Karnal and Ambala of present Haryana under the erstwhile 1936 Consolidation Act which was repealed by the Consolidation Act of 1948, his letter states.
Alleging in his letter that the FC Revenue, “has done this to please higher ups in order to secure a post retirement sinecure”, Mr Khemka said, “It is unfortunate that the portion of the state’s reply before the high court has been approved by the FC Revenue despite the patent misrepresentation and suppression embodied regarding the notification of 1.12.1942.”
Writing to the Haryana Chief Secretary on January 7, Mr. Khemka said, “The motive of pleading the misleading and contumacious portions in the state’s reply is obvious, to protect the company of Mr. Robert Vadra, regarding which the undersigned, had passed an order dated 15/10/2012… by the ACO purporting to discharge the powers of assistant collector of second grade.”
The beleaguered IAS officer who is at the receiving end of the government’s wrath after cancelling Mr. Vadra’s mutation, is also upset that the inquiry committee formed by the government in the aftermath of his action, did not associate him in any manner or seek his assistance, though he has uncovered several land scams in the state. According to the terms of reference of the committee constituted by the government on October 19th, it was to inquire, into not just the acts of omission and commission in the Robert Vadra land deal, but also probe other issues raised by Mr Khemka. These relate to how hundreds of acres of panchayat lands are being fraudulently transferred to realtor companies in the state.
Incidentally, one of the committee members is K.K. Jalan, who was the Principal Secretary, Town and Country Planning department, which renewed the licence to Mr. Vadra in January 2011. The other two officers are Krishan Mohan, Financial Commissioner, Revenue department, and Rajan Gupta, Financial Commissioner, Excise and Taxation. Official circles are agog with the propriety of putting Mr. Jalan on the inquiry panel when he was heading the concerned department that gave a licence to Mr. Vadra. When contacted by The Hindu, Mr. Jalan said that it is for the Chief Secretary to comment on this matter. The CS was not available for comment.
Following a news report that said that the decision to renew Mr. Vadra’s colonisation licence was in tune with the law, Mr. Khemka, wrote another letter to the Chief Secretary on Saturday, pointing out that instead of “selectively leaking parts of the report to sections of the press, the report should be made public.” He has also asked for several key documents relating to the Vadra/DLF deal that have not been made public so far, so as to be able assist the committee.
The copy has been corrected for factual error