Controversial probationary IAS officer Pooja Khedkar joins duty

Centre constitutes a single-member committee to verify the candidature claims and other details of Ms. Khedkar

Updated - July 11, 2024 11:18 pm IST

Published - July 11, 2024 05:43 pm IST - Pune

Pune Police personnel arrive at the residence of probationary IAS officer Pooja Khedkar in Pune, Maharashtra.

Pune Police personnel arrive at the residence of probationary IAS officer Pooja Khedkar in Pune, Maharashtra. | Photo Credit: X/@ANI

Controversial probationary Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Pooja Khedkar who is in the eye of a raging storm for seeking special privileges and faking certificates, joined the Washim district administration on July 11 to complete the remainder of her training amid clamour from activists demanding an in-depth probe into the murky circumstances of her recruitment.

The Centre constituted a single-member committee, chaired by a senior officer of the rank of Additional Secretary, to verify the candidature claims and other details of Ms. Khedkar. The committee will submit its report within two weeks.

A 2023 batch IAS officer, Ms. Khedkar who was posted as Additional Collector in Pune, made news for dubious reasons after it transpired that she had sought special privileges including a separate office, house, car, and staff (including a constable) before taking charge as an assistant collector — perks not given to trainee officers — amid allegations that her father, a retired IAS officer, used his influence to get his daughter’s demands fulfilled.

She even used a ‘Government of Maharashtra’ sticker and a red-blue beacon on her private luxury sedan, an Audi, while on probation in Pune

Also Read | Pune cops say will act against unauthorised use of beacon light on IAS trainee officer’s car

Hailing from a family of bureaucrats, more skeletons tumbled from Ms. Khedkar’s cupboard after it emerged that she allegedly faked mental illness to secure a disability certificate and appeared for the UPSC exam under the visually impaired category.

Khedkar mum on row

The litany of controversies led to a probe and a report being submitted by Pune District Collector Suhas Diwase to the General Administration Department (GAD), which saw Ms. Khedkar being transferred to Washim district to complete the remaining term of her training as a “supernumerary assistant collector” till July 30, 2025.

Speaking to reporters in Washim today before joining the administration, Ms. Khedkar refused to comment on her controversies, merely saying: “I am very happy to join in Washim district [administration]. I am looking forward to working here… I am not authorised to comment on this issue as government rules do not to speak anything on this matter.”

Washim District Collector Buveneswari S. said that Ms. Khedkar had been allotted the district as a probationary officer.

“She has commenced work from today. The GAD has a schedule for probationary IAS officers. We are ready to give training to her under that schedule,” said Ms. Buveneswari.

As per Mr. Diwase’s report, even prior to joining duty on June 3, Ms. Khedkar had repeatedly demanded that she be provided a separate cabin, car, residential quarters and a peon.

She had also been using Pune Additional Collector Ajay More’s office while he was away, and had removed his nameplate and furniture, the report said.

This was followed by allegations of her having faking disability and furnishing a phoney Other Backward Class (OBC) certificate to clear the civil services exam.

Ms. Khedkar has repeatedly skipped her medical examination no less than six times by giving various excuses despite being asked to report at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi for verification of her disability certificate.

RTI activist demands probe

Meanwhile, city-based RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar has demanded a thorough probe into the circumstances of Ms. Khedkar’s recruitment in the service.

He alleged that she became an IAS officer from the OBC category where the creamy layer certificate limitation is an annual parental income of ₹8 lakh while her father’s election affidavit showed his wealth to be around ₹40 crore.

Ms. Khedkar’s father, Deelip Khedkar, had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha election from the Ahmednagar constituency as a candidate of the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA).

Mr. Kumbhar claimed that Ms. Khedkar’s parents, despite having a non-creamy layer certificate, possessed property that included 110 acres of agricultural land, no less than seven flats, 900 grams of gold, a gold watch worth ₹17 lakh and 4 cars.

Mr. Kumbhar further alleged that Ms. Khedkar herself possessed property worth ₹17 crore.

“The question arises is how can can such income fall into the non-creamy layer category? Furthermore, she has admitted to being mentally ill and a person with multiple disabilities. If someone is mentally ill, how can she be assigned a high post. She has not appeared for the medical at least six times. The GAD has to answer for these irregularities,” said Mr. Kumbhar.

Speaking to The Hindu, the activist further said that no trainee IAS officer managed to secure a posting in his or her home town.

“Despite being given Bhandara district as her initial posting, Pooja Khedkar was later given Pune. How did she manage that? This appointment is a blot on a prestigious service like the IAS. I am going to write to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Chief Minister’s Office,” said Mr. Kumbhar.

(With inputs from Vijaita Singh)

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