Ashok Khemka to CM Khattar after 53rd transfer: Governance no longer service, it’s business

Varinder Bhatia
Ashok Khemka, IAS officer Ashok Khemka transferred, Haryana government, India news, Indian express

Ashok Khemka has sought permission to meet PM Modi.

Transferred 53 times in 29 years of service, IAS officer Ashok Khemka has lashed out at the Haryana government saying that “governance is no longer a service, it is a business”, and sought Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s permission to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “brief” him “in public interest”.

Khemka, Principal Secretary of the Science and Technology Department, was transferred to the Archives Department by the Haryana government in November. In March, he was transferred from the Sports and Youth Affairs Department, where he had spent 15 months.

In a Demi-Official (DO) letter to Khattar, Khemka has strongly objected to his last transfer. The Chief Minister’s Office has received Khemka’s letter but Khattar is yet to react to it. This is the first time that Khemka has objected to his transfers and written to the CM.

“Small minds tend to humiliate and cause fear to detract from doing one’s duty honestly and effectively. Governance is no longer a service, it is a business. Only a few fools like me will think and act like trustees of the public faith. Hoping against hope that you will not throw the letter into the dustbin. I also request you to please accord me permission to write and seek audience from the Prime Minister on the issues highlighted in this letter in public interest,” Khemka’s letter to Khattar read.

Calling most of his transfers a “violation”of the IAS (Cadre) Rules, Khemka said: “I have always suffered the ill-considered and premature transfers silently. My self-imposed restraint should not be interpreted as a sign of acquiescence. A transfer should not be carried out based solely on one’s wish or desire. To say the least, most transfers are non-speaking, non-transparent, managed and based on extraneous and personal considerations. Some of the transfers I have suffered during your tenure were not in public interest, but based on extraneous and personal considerations”.

On his last transfer on November 27, Khemka said, “I request you to consider the file carefully at your level, which point to financial corruption in the award of GIS related tenders in some departments like GIS-based property survey in Urban Local Bodies [tender value of Rs 103 crore is 84 per cent higher as compared to the HARSAC estimate of Rs 56 crore] and likely award of works to private parties in the Departments of Industries & Commerce, Forests, Town & Country Planning replicating the work already done by HARSAC.”

Khemka is also locked in a legal battle with the Haryana government on the issue of his Performance Appraisal Rating (PAR). While Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled in Khemka’s favour and expunged Khattar’s adverse remarks in the officer’s PAR for the year 2016-17, the state government has moved the Supreme Court.

“By filing the SLP, you acted as a Judge in your own cause. While the state has engaged the Solicitor General of India and a battery of other lawyers to defend your remarks in my PAR at a fat cost to the state exchequer, I am left to fend for myself. It is amusing the Solicitor General will oppose the Union of India impleaded as respondent No. 2 in the SLP. The Union of India did not put in appearance because it is in a piquant situation of how to contest its own Solicitor General in Court. A senior lawyer to match the Solicitor General of India will need a huge sum, which I can ill afford without borrowing,” Khemka has also written.