Chandigarh: A fresh chapter has been written in the tussle involving two IAS officers over an alleged corruption case, after the Haryana Police invoked the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act in a counter case registered against Rohtak Division commissioner Sanjeev Verma.
On Tuesday, Verma had tweeted — ‘Boye Ped Babul Ka, Aam Kahan Se Khaye’ — in Hindi. The civil servant was quoting a couplet by Bhakti Movement poet Kabir whose rough translation stands like this: future consequences are inevitably shaped by present actions.
The cryptic tweet came a day after 1991 IAS batch officer Ashok Khemka made a post on Twitter following his transfer to the Haryana Archives department as an additional chief secretary.
The acrimony between the two began when Verma, a state civil service officer promoted to the IAS in 2004, in his capacity as the Haryana State Warehousing Corporation (HSWC) managing director lodged a case against Khemka in April last year. Verma was shifted out of the HSWC in July last year.
“On Wednesday, I started receiving calls from the media that the police have added the Prevention of Corruption Act against me in FIR No. 171. The police seem to be under pressure. Both FIRs No. 170 and 171 should be handed over to the CBI so that truth could be revealed,” Verma said Thursday when ThePrint reached out for his reaction.
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How tussle began
The ongoing feud pertains to recruitment in the HSWC where Verma joined as managing director (MD) in April 2022. On 22 April, he recommended the registration of a criminal case for alleged irregularities in HSWC appointments made during Khemka’s tenure as its MD more than a decade ago.
Verma sent a formal complaint to Sector 5 police station in Panchkula for registration of a criminal case against Khemka and three HSWC officials over the recruitment of two manager Grade-I officials, Pradip Kumar and Surinder Singh, in 2010. Before the case was referred to the police, Verma had dismissed Kumar and Singh on 20 April.
Six days later, Khemka accompanied by Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij reached the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police, Panchkula, Mohit Dhanda. Later, the three met the Commissioner of Police Hanif Qureshi for nearly half an hour.
After emerging from the meeting, Vij had told the media that he asked the police officers to register an FIR (No.171) on Khemka’s complaint against Verma and Ravinder Kumar.
Ravinder, a Panchkula resident, was the complainant in the case based on which Verma ordered the registration of FIR against Khemka, who had served as the HSWC managing director from 2009 to 2010.
In his complaint, Khemka accused Verma and Ravinder of hatching a conspiracy against him. Verma misused his position as the HSWC MD in conspiracy with Ravinder to file a false complaint “in an act of revenge and with a corrupt motive”, the complaint read.
The allegations, however, were denied by Verma.
Meanwhile, Verma’s complaint against the alleged illegal appointment of two HSWC officials was converted into an FIR (No.170) on 26 April last year. The police had invoked relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the PCA.
But the police also registered a counter FIR the same day on the complaint of Khemka against Verma and Ravinder in connection with alleged tampering of records.
In July, Vij then gave the opinion that the FIR against Khemka couldn’t have been registered without prior sanction under Section 17A of the PCA. As for the counter FIR lodged against Verma, the Haryana Home Minister recommended no prior sanction of the government was required to take action as it was registered under the IPC.
Section 17A of the PCA mandates that the police have to seek prior approval from the government before conducting an enquiry, inquiry or investigation against a serving or retired public servant.
Khemka had approached the high court to quash the FIR against him in which the Haryana government had submitted that no sanction under Section 17A was yet to be granted. The court had disposed of the case on 29 November.
In June last year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court did not accept the plea of Ravinder who sought the FIR against him and Verma be quashed. The next month, the high court gave relief to him, restraining the police from filing challan without its permission in the same FIR lodged by Khemka. The matter is still pending in the court.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
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