Khemka, the IAS officer from Haryana, cancelled the mutation of over three acre plot that Vadra's company allegedly sold to DLF last month, on the grounds that the mutation violated the States Consolidation Act
Chandigarh: A senior Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer from Haryana is at the centre of a raging controversy after he was transferred in the wake of his decision to probe alleged undervaluation of properties dealt with by Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, reports PTI.
Significantly, on the last day of his posting as Director General of Land Consolidation and Land Records-cum- Inspector-General of Registration yesterday, Ashok Khemka also issued an order cancelling the mutation of over three acre plot of land in Manesar-Shikohpur that Vadra had sold to DLF.
Khemka, a 1991-batch officer, on Tuesday attacked the decision to transfer him, saying it was "demoralising and dehumanising".
"If these problems are brought in sunshine, probably my decisions would appear to be normal and correct. But what happens is, inside, you are guided and directed that behave differently.
"If you do take an action which you call strong but I would call as correct, and then action is taken against you, it's very demoralising, dehumanising and you feel ashamed of yourself that look, there must be something wrong with you that these things are happening.
"You get words like 'you don't get along well with others, 'there are shades of grey in life' etc. These kinds of euphemism are created to deviate you from the correct path," he said pleading for security as he feels "threat" from "vested elements" whom he has been exposing from time to time.
In his 12th October letter, a day after his transfer orders were issued, addressed to the Deputy Commissioners-cum-Registrar, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Mewat districts, Khemka's letter reads "inquiry regarding under valuation of some properties registered by Robert Vadra or his companies as vendor or vendee".
In the letter, Khemka wrote "As per the records of one property, M/s Sky Light hospitality had purchased Khasra No 730 (3.53 acres) of village Shikhopur, district Gurgaon vide sale deed number 4928 dated 12 February 2008 for Rs7.5 crore.
"This property was re-sold to M/s DLF Universal for Rs58 crore vide sale deed number 1435 dated 18 September 2012 after obtaining LOI/licence from the Director, Town and Country Planning, Haryana on 28 March 2003, subsequently renewed on 18 January 2011 for 2.701 acres," he alleged in the letter.
Khemka cancelled the mutation of over 3 acre plot that Vadra's company, M/s Sky Light Hospitality, had allegedly sold to DLF Universal Ltd last month on the grounds that the mutation violated the States Consolidation Act and was done not by a revenue officer but by the Assistant Consolidation Officer of Gurgaon unauthorisedly.
Khemka, who was also the Inspector General of Registration, formally ordered an inquiry across four districts into the alleged under-valuation of some properties registered by Vadra or his companies as vendor or vendee.
The IAS officer further mentions that village Shikhopur of district Gurgaon was re-notified under the provisions of East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act, 1948 on 5 August 2011.
"The sale of property on 18 September 2012 during the pendency of the consolidation proceedings without sanction of the Consolidation Officer was against provisions of Section 30 of the Consolidation Act. The mutation number 4513 sanctioned on 20th September this year by the Assistant Consolidation Officer was also without jurisdiction, since he is not a Revenue Officer under the Punjab Land Revenue Act," he stated.
Noting that "under-valuation" of property leads to loss of revenue, Khemka said that in view of questions raised in reputed national dailies and to clear the name of Registering Offices in Haryana, he considers "it fit and appropriate to order DCs-cum-Registrars of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Mewat shall inspect all documents registered from 1 January 2005 and till date by or on behalf of Vadra or his firms in the capacity of either vendor or vendee and compile such list for examination.
"They (DCs) shall estimate the real value of the property conveyed through registered documents and in case of under-valuations, the matter shall be referred to Collector under Section 47-A of the Indian Stamps Act for correct assessment of the stamp duty payable," Khemka said.
While mentioning the name of a reputed national daily, Khemka in his letter further directed the DCs that the report must reach the office of Inspector General of Registration, Haryana by 25th October this year.
Quoting the daily, he mentioned the names of some companies of Vadra as "Sky Light Realty, Sky Light Hospitality, Real Earth Estates, Blue Breeze Trading, Artex and North India IT Parks".
In his letter yesterday to Director General, Town and Country Planning Department and Deputy Commissioner-cum- Registrar-cum Assistant Director, Consolidation, Gurgaon, Khemka advised the former not to accord permission or issue Letter of Intent/licence or Change of Land Use "in violation" of Consolidation Act or Land Ceiling Act "at least in future".
He mentions that with reference to registered sale deed of 18th September of village Shikhopur, Sector 83, Gurgaon, for sale of 3.531 acres against total consideration of Rs58 crore by vendor, M/s Sky Light Hospitality Private Limited, to vendee, M/s DLF Universal Ltd, of which part area of 2.701 acres is issued LOI/license dated 28 March 2008 and subsequently renewed on 18 January 2011 by Town and Country Planning Department, Sky Light Hospitality had allegedly received Rs50 crore out of total sale consideration of Rs58 crore by 7 October 2010 as per the registered sale deed.
"The vendor had ex-facie entered into a sale agreement with the vendee or on before 3 June 2008, when part payment of the total sale consideration was received. It is not known what made the Town and Country Planning Department to renew the LOI/licence on 18 January 2011 in favour of the vendor, when 86.2% of the total sales consideration was paid to him by 10 October 2009, that is 15 months before the date of renewal of the LOI/licence.
"If the vendor suppressed the material fact that he had entered into a sale agreement of the impugned property with M/s DLF Universal, against which he was paid 86.2 per cent of the total sales consideration 15 months before the renewal of the LOI/licence, then the Department ought to be taking action against vendor for suppressing the material fact," Khemka's letter said.
"On the contrary, had the vendor informed the Department about his entering into an agreement to sell on or before 3 June 2008 with M/s DLF Universal, it is unfathomable how the Department could renew the LOI/licence on 18 January 2011 in favour of the vendor who had ex-facie entered into an agreement to sell within 65 days of the issue of first LOI/license," Khemka wrote.
He further said in the letter that action of the Sub-Registrar, Manesar to register the property on 18th September this year when the estate of Shikhopur was under consolidation was also not proper.
"A mutation number 4513 was sanctioned without jurisdiction on 20 September 2012 to give effect to the sale deed no 1435 dated 18 September 2012 by Assistant Consolidation Officer, Gurgaon, who is not a revenue officer...I hereby set aside the mutation ... on the ground that the Assistant Consolidation Officer who had sanctioned the mutation was not competent to do so," he said.
Talking to reporters here today, Khemka alleged that there was a nexus between politicians and officers and "insider trading" was happening "under which gullible land owner is made to part with his land by paying peanuts".
"I also want amendment in the Prevention of Corruption Act so that government officials found guilty of insider trading are punished," he said, adding that he had been trying for an amendment to prevent panchayat or village Shamlat land (common land) being sold by circumventing and manipulating rules.
Khemka said that before being shunted out from the department, he was also trying to have entire land records made online by November to bring about more transparency.
Asked if he was under any kind of pressure from politicians or senior bureaucrats, he said, "They know what type of person I am and I don't accept any pressure. There has been no pressure, at the most I have been frequently transferred".
After his transfer, 43rd in his career so far, the senior Haryana IAS officer had charged the state government with "abruptly" transferring him and had even shot a letter to State Chief Secretary PK Chaudhery.
In his letter to Chaudhery a day after his transfer, Khemka had pointed out that there should be a minimum tenure of two years as per the statutory IAS (Fixation of Cadre Strength) Regulations 2010, "but the state government has violated statutory regulations".
Chaudhery had maintained that the IAS officer's contention that his transfer was a punishment was not correct.
In his letter, Khemka had said that acting as a whistle-blower on "several dubious" land transactions has come as a "punishment" for him.
"It is shocking to learn about my abrupt transfer...this is deliberate and malafide to punish me due to some vested elements in the political-bureaucratic hierarchy affected by the expose of the scams in consolidation of land holdings under the exercise of powers," he wrote in his letter.
During his 50-day stint in the department, Khemka had detected irregularities in land transactions involving transfer of panchayat land worth several hundred crores of rupees to newly created real estate companies.
Khemka, who is known in bureaucratic circles as an upright and honest officer, had in 2004 refused to obey the orders of the then state government headed by Om Prakash Chautala with respect to transfer of teachers mid-session.
TV viewers from Mumbai are complaining about severe disturbances in cable TV relayed by Hathway as well as disappearance of channels since the past few months
Several television (TV) viewers from across Mumbai are complaining about dwindling quality of Hathway cable TV services. Several customers of Hathway Cable are witnessing regular disruption, pixelation and disappearance of channels on the cable networks from Colaba to Andheri and other suburbs.
“I have been noticing pixelation and disturbances in Hathway connections in my house and also in Colaba area in houses of my friends and relatives. This is happening very often nowadays,” said one agitated customer of Hathway, who unsuccessfully tried to raise the issue may times, with the service provider.
Pixelation or the fuzzy picture with all sorts of vertical and horizontal (wire mesh) disturbances running across the screen is a most common phenomenon with analog TV services. With the upcoming digitisation, it is expected to be a thing of past and people can watch TV with clean and clear image similar to direct-to-home (DTH) service. On the digital platform, pixelation may occur due to momentary delay in signal and the display unit (like TV) may not be able to decode the frames fast enough to render or show them properly.
Viewers from four metros—Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai—will have to install a set top box (STB) to continue to view TV through the cable network from next month onwards. The ministry of information and broadcasting has set a deadline of 31st October for complete switch over of cable TV to the digital platform in the four metros in the first phase.
Apart from offering more channels in digital quality, the advantages of digital cable services include weather-proof services that are not interrupted by rain. Besides, this service is provided through the local cable operator.
Coming back to Hathway Cable TV services, several customers have been complaining about the disappearance of their regular channels. One such customer from Bengaluru said, since September 2012, he is not been able to watch ETV Kannada (Channel No 642), while other ETV channels are being relayed by Hathway. He said this has happened for the second time.
According to sources, the disappearance of a particular channel or set of channels is related with non-payment of user fees to the broadcaster from the cable TV operator. However, many times, cable operators manage to access the blocked channel/s and relay it on some different set. For example, Hathway may use its “Local Cable 1”, “Local Cable 2” or “Local Cable 3” to relay the otherwise blocked channel. While some customers know about this practice, the same cannot be confirmed by the cable operators.
Hathway, on its part has made it clear that quality of its signal varies across locations. Here are the general parameters used by Hathway for cable TV relay service across its network...
Hathway says these parameters are achieved on its trunk and distribution network. “Performance of these parameters can vary from each STB location so much so that it can be different at two locations within the same household due to the nature of the internal cabling within the household. In such instances a Hathway technician or its local cable operator (LCO) will demonstrate the same at the tap off/splitter level that feeds the particular household that the parameters are met and the subscriber will then have to replace the internal cabling at his/her cost,” Hathway said on its site.
Interestingly Hathway used the same excuse and asked one of its customers to change internal cables. But the end result is the same. “This (the issues with Hathway cable TV) has been going on for very long. They first pointed out incorrect cable (in my home). I got it changed to the recommended cable on all my TVs, but of late this pixelation problem keeps on coming up from time to time,” the customer said.
The question is why Hathway cannot look in customer complaints and resolve it at the earliest. The answer is simple. Hathway have lesser seats or customer care executives compared with DTH service providers as most of the time it is their LCO who interacts or resolves customer complaints. The LCO may or may not be able to resolve technical issues without help and in the process, the customers suffer.
Here is an officials reply sent by Hathway on isses raised in this article. Moneylife received the reply on 20th October.
You shop for the highest savings account interest with low minimum balance requirement as your existing savings account is paying only 4%. What are your options? Beware of banks that offer high savings interest rate for a limited time and those having account closing fees
YES Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and IndusInd Bank have been attracting customers with the lure of higher savings account interest. These banks have reported huge increase in savings bank deposits as well as customer base. Bigger private banks like HDFC, ICICI, Axis and nationalised banks are still offering only 4% interest even after the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) deregulated savings interest rates since October 2011.
Moneylife decided to visit some banks as a prospective customer to find out about savings account, fixed deposits (FDs), Flexi FD, recurring deposit (RD), debit cards and also Know-Your-Customer (KYC) requirements, lockers, online access, transfer, etc. The purpose of the visits was to check out the basic facilities for the smart saver. Many customers want best interest rates, low minimum balance requirement, no-fee debit card, etc without getting overwhelmed with add-on product benefits that they may never use. We will have series of articles for helping the smart saver.
It does make sense to get high interest rate on a savings account especially with the government allowing Rs10,000 savings account interest to be tax-free from the current financial year. Till the last fiscal, the entire saving account interest was taxable even though there is no TDS (tax deductible at source).
Here is an important finding. The ability to waive the minimum balance requirement of Rs10,000 is possible with smaller private banks like YES, Kotak Mahindra and IndusInd by opening FDs of certain amount. Ensure that you see the waiver of minimum balance requirement in writing and not orally promised by a relationship manager (RM). Violation of the minimum balance requirement can lead to heavy penalty of up to Rs350 per month. Ironically, the IndusInd RM did not accept the waiver of minimum balance requirement even though the bank’s own website clearly mentions about it.
IndusInd Classic Savings account is supposed to waive off the minimum balance requirement by opening an FD of Rs50,000. The RM’s reasoning for not offering the Rs10,000 savings balance waiver was that a Classic Savings account is not offered by their Prabhadevi branch in Mumbai, as it is A+ category branch (no such category specified on the IndusInd website). Unconvinced with the answer, we asked him FOR MORE details. The final offer made by the RM over the phone was that they will waive the minimum balance requirement for two years and after that waiver can be done only by having an FD of Rs10 lakh. Clearly, they were not as interested in getting business at higher saving bank interest rate like YES and Kotak Mahindra Bank.
The waiver of the minimum balance of Rs10,000 is not possible with bigger private players like HDFC, ICICI and Axis Bank even if you open FDs. HDFC Bank’s current and savings account (CASA) is 45% of its total deposits, which means there is less incentive to offer higher interest rates or waiver of saving account minimum balance requirement.
Moneylife’s visit to YES, Kotak Mahindra and IndusInd bank revealed following:
Savings account interest rates can drop based on the trend of reducing rates for FDs. So far, these banks have held on to the rates. YES Bank is a good option, but it has a closing fee for savings account. Ratnakar Bank offers 5.5% savings interest, but specifies a minimum balance of Rs5,000. FirstRand Bank offers 7.25% interest for Platinum savings account, but needs a high minimum balance (Rs1 lakh).
Beware that some banks that may offer higher interest rate for only one quarter just to attract customers. Cosmos Bank offered a higher savings interest rate of 6% only for one quarter (January-March 2012). The big displays at the bank branch advertising increased savings rate were followed by reducing the savings interest back to 4% without the same zeal to convey the message to customers. The notice was put at the branch and ATM, which many failed to read. The result was customers were caught off-guard with the savings rate falling from 6% back to 4%. Some customers kept high balance in savings account only to find that interest for April-June 2012 was only 4% p.a. The bank profits while the customer is unaware of the rate reduction. Even if they are aware, customers may be reluctant to move funds to another bank or FD account.
Read this space regularly for more articles on short and long-term FD, Flexi FD, RD, debit cards, Know-Your-Customer (KYC) requirements, lockers, RTGS, NEFT, online access and transfers, etc.