HSWC Recruitment Row: Cops book Verma and Khemka on each other’s complaints

The controversy over alleged irregularities in recruitment of two officials in Haryana State Warehousing Corporation 12 years ago took a fresh turn Tuesday when Home Minister Anil Vij accompanied senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka to Panchkula DCP’s office and directed officers to register an FIR on his complaint against against 2004-batch IAS officer Sanjeev Verma, a Panchkula resident Ravinder Kumar and others.

On Vij’s directions, Panchkula police booked Verma, Kumar and others on charges of criminal conspiracy and fabrication of official documents on the complaint lodged by Khemka.

Besides home and health, Vij also holds the portfolio of Science and Technology, the department in which Khemka is Additional Chief Secretary.

Incidentally the FIR against Verma (FIR No. 171 at Sector 5 police station, Panchkula) was registered just about an hour after Panchkula police booked Khemka and three retired employees of HSWC under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act (FIR No. 170) on a reference that the 2004-batch IAS officer had sent to police on April 20.

Verma, the incumbent managing director of HSWC, had made a complaint filed by Kumar the basis to seek an FIR against Khemka, a 1991-batch IAS officer.

The issue pertains to recruitment of two manager Grade-I officials (a class-III post) in HSWC in 2010. Both the officials, Pradip Kumar and Surinder Singh were dismissed from service by Verma on April 20.

Khemka did not comment on today’s development. Verma, however, told The Indian Express that “it is all in front of the government” now. “They can investigate both the complaints. Whatever I did, I only performed my official duty,” Verma said.

Both Khemka and Vij reached the office of Panchkula DCP Mohit Handa in the afternoon. They later held a nearly 25-minute long meeting with Commissioner of Police (Panchkula range) Dr Hanif Qureshi, in which Handa too was present. It is learned that Vij rebuked the officers for the delay in registering FIR on Khemka’s complaint.

Emerging from the meeting, Vij told media persons that he has issued directions for registration of FIR on Khemka’s complaint. “I do not know the contents of the complaint lodged by Ashok Khemka. He called and informed me that he had lodged a complaint with the police but no FIR was being registered. That is why I came here and directed officials to register the FIR,” Vij said.

Qureshi had confirmed that an FIR was being registered on Khemka’s complaint against Verma and two-three others. “The prime offence is the fabrication of official records besides a few other alleged offences in the complaint,” he said.

About the reference made by Verma seeking FIR on corruption charges against Khemka and three retired employees of HSWC, Qureshi said, “We are examining that reference too and shall be taking action as per the law.” Hours later, the FIR was registered against Khemka and three retired employees of HSWC including Som Nath Rattan, the then manager (P), SC Kansal, the then assistant manager (Admn), and Naresh Kumar, the then dealing assistant.

According to sources, Khemka, in his complaint has accused Verma and Kumar of hatching a conspiracy against him. Khemka has also alleged that Verma misused his position as MD, HSWC in conspiracy with Kumar to file a false complaint “in an act of revenge and with a corrupt motive”. He also accused Verma of “leaking” the official documents to a set of special documents, particularly a reporter of a vernacular daily who further posted the said documents in two WhatsApp groups. Khemka has also alleged that there were “material distortions and concealment” in a police complaint filed against him by Verma.

Refuting the claims levelled by Verma, Khemka said that the entire process was deliberately manipulated with “malicious intent” to frame him wrongly and to cause “wrongful injury” to his reputation.

In his complaint to police, Khemka had elaborated the sequence of events related to the two recruitments made in 2010 when he was posted as managing director of HSWC. He also referred to the police report submitted to Lokayukta in 2016 in which the then DCP, Panchkula, while dealing with the same complaint lodged by Ravinder, had given the finding that “no offence was made out”.

Khemka has now accused Verma of acting in conspiracy with Kumar, abusing his official position and attempting to procure punishment of a public servant with a corrupt motive. He sought action against Verma, Ravinder and others under various Sections of IPC including Sections 167 (Public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury); Section 182 (False information, with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person); Section 195A (Threatening any person to give false evidence); Section 198 (Using as true a certificate known to be false); Section 211 (False charge of offence made with intent to injure); Section 218 (Public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture); and Section 120B (Criminal conspiracy).

What is the case

Alleging irregularities in recruitment of two persons — Pradip Kumar and Surinder Singh on the post of managers Grade-I in HSWC in 2010, the complaint was initially lodged by a Panchkula resident Ravinder Kumar in 2016. He kept pursuing the complaint at various platforms, including police’s top brass and even in HSWC, seeking registration of a FIR against Khemka and others. After failing to evoke response, he moved a complaint in the office of Haryana Lokayukta the same year. Based on Lokayukta’s directions, Haryana Police conducted an inquiry but found no merit in the claims. In his report submitted to the Lokayukta, the then Panchkula DCP mentioned: “…no facts have come to fore on the basis of which members of an interview committee (of HSWC) should be summoned or their statements be recorded…No offence was made out”

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