Till recently, Ashok Khemka was Director-General of Land Consolidation and Land Records-cum-Inspector-General of Registration in Haryana Government. Khemka had detected serious irregularities in land transactions involving transfer of panchayat land worth several hundred crores of rupees to newly created real estate companies. Incidentally, this irregularity also included land transfer deal involving Mr. Robert Vadra and DLF. Mr Khemka went on to cancel land mutation deed for irregular transactions.
Mr. Khemka had been transferred 40 times in his 21 year service with Haryana government. Mr. Omprakash Chautala, the honorable ex chief minister of Haryana, of girls should be married by age 15 to avoid rape fame, had even removed his official vehicle. Mr. Khemka walked to office. In Bhupinder Singh Hooda government, Mr. Khemka had been transferred 14 times in 7 years. So when he received his transfer order on 11th Oct, 2012 at 10 PM at night at his residence, within 3 days of initiation enquiry on land transfer irregularity, it was no surprise.
However, Mr. Khemka this time protested with chief secretary of Haryana government that Mr. Khemka had completed only 3 months in his present post, and service rule suggest that minimum tenure of an officer should be 2 years. Mr. Khemka did not get appointment with Chief Secretary, but got his transfer order at 10.00 pm at night of 11th Oct, 2012. Mr. Khemka did not relinquish his position on 12th Oct, 2012 but went on to cancel mutation of land transaction he found to be irregular.
Mr. Khemka is no ordinary IAS officer. He is a graduate from IIT Kharagpur, got his PhD from TIFR, and cleared his Indian Adminstrative Service examination. He also has an MBA degree. Mr. Khemka is a crusader for honesty. He has been awarded S R Jindal Prize for Crusade against Corruption. Because of his dedication to honesty, Mr. Khemka had been penalized by various governments by transferring him from one post to the other..
Mr Khemka appeared on TV channels to put forward his side of the story. He also informed through TV that he had been getting death threat. Opposition politicians, activists and TV channels welcomed Mr Khemka with open arm because Vadra DLF relationship had started emerging, and it was too much of a coincidence that Mr Khemka was transferred as soon as he started nosing around Vadra affair.
There are two schools of thought on the affairs of Mr. Khemka. First group believe, which include Haryana government and central government of India, Mr. Khemka should have complained through proper channel if he had a grievance. Mr Khemka should have never come to TV channel and must not have discussed official secrets. These people also believe, that Mr. Khemka had not right continuing in his office and taking action that he did when he was no longer an officer in the department. Government also claimed that transferring an officer is its prerogative – 40 times in 20 years!!! It was also claimed that Mr. Khemka was an worthless and incompetent. officer.
However, the second school of thought suggest that Mr. Khemka had seen a much bigger crime that was leading to loss to state exchequer. There was evidence of illegal activity, involvement of high officers of government, and undue gain to politically influencial individual and a business house. So it was nothing but his duty to act in the way he did. Mr. Khemka also felt that since he had challenged his transfer and not actually accepted the new posting, he was technically still an officer in the department. Moreover, Mr. Khemka was getting death threat. If he had not come out in the open, he might have been dead by now.
Irony in all this is the same government that is throwing law book at Ashok Khemka, was totally blind about blatant irregularity in land transfer deal in favor of Mr. Vadra. The file was signed in an expeditious manner by the honorable chief minister of Haryana. In India, most corrupt are always well versed with law. They may do all wrong, but will catch you on technical ground. Morality and ethics has become secondary for these people. If government is so concerned about law, why did it transferred a land withing 24 hours to Mr. Vadra? If government felt everything is correct and pure, why did they transfer Mr. Khemka and why did government not initiate an enquiry onto the matter of land transfer?
I think highly educated, passionately honest and dedicated officers like Mr. Khemka are our national heroes. They have fought every day of their lives under very unpleasant circumstances, but never gave up. A person of Mr. Khemka’s qualification could have easily got a job in private sector. I think, India needs officers like Mr. Khemka. I wish I had the courage to be like Mr. Khemka.