HC sends notice to Khemka

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday issued notices to Ashok Khemka, a 1990-batch IAS officer of Haryana cadre, who was given a non-cadre post managing director of Haryana Seeds Development Corporation after he cancelled the mutation of a land deal between a company owned by Robert Vadra and DLF, asking him why he had referred to the court by name in the print and electronic media.

Asking Khemka to respond by December 19, Justice Ranjit Singh said: "The officer had referred to this court by name while appearing on some electronic media or while the issue was covered in the newspapers. Let notice be issued to the officer as to why and in what authority he had referred to this court by name, while making reference to the order passed and whether it would lead to violation of any norms or would be of the nature of contempt."

The order added that in this case (surplus land), the special collector (Khemka) had appeared before the court on October 1 and expressed difficulty in not deciding the matter, despite a direction issued by this court. "Finding the explanation to be reasonable, the respondent government was required to take a decision to give the charge of this appointment to an officer, who could competently exercise such powers of special collector. Subsequently, on the basis of this order, the special collector challenged some action of the government in directing his transfer from the appointment held by him. This would be an issue between the officer and the government. But the officer had referred to this court by name," the court added.

The directions were issued on a petition originally filed by one Jai Bhagwaan, who had alleged that the land allotted to him by the government already stood sold to a private company. He had submitted that the land nearly 50 kanals in Gurgaon belongs to him and should be released from the Hyderabad-based company in question. Since the officer failed to appear, the high court in September had issued bailable warrants against him.

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