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  Opinion   Columnists  11 Apr 2024  Dilip Cherian | IAS officer, her spouse caught up in Haryana land deal drama

Dilip Cherian | IAS officer, her spouse caught up in Haryana land deal drama

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Published : Apr 12, 2024, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Apr 12, 2024, 12:00 am IST

Senior IAS officer, spouse, and former official embroiled in disputed land transaction; red flags raised by Panchkula revenue officials

An airport drama in Guwahati, complete with allegations, investigations and an IPS officer sent packing! Quite a spicy saga unfolded as a senior IPS officer was swiftly repatriated to his parent Uttar Pradesh cadre, with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) giving him the boot. No reasons given, of course, but just a mysterious shuffle back to where it all began. (Representational Image: DC)
 An airport drama in Guwahati, complete with allegations, investigations and an IPS officer sent packing! Quite a spicy saga unfolded as a senior IPS officer was swiftly repatriated to his parent Uttar Pradesh cadre, with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) giving him the boot. No reasons given, of course, but just a mysterious shuffle back to where it all began. (Representational Image: DC)

A buzz-worthy land deal in Haryana, featuring a senior female IAS officer, her spouse (who happens to be the state information commissioner) and a former additional chief secretary has hit a snag due to some red flags raised by Panchkula revenue officials.

It began in September last year when Ambala divisional commissioner Renu Phulia made a swift quasi-judicial decision to lift a decades-old injunction on the sale and purchase of a 14-acre land parcel near Panchkula, originally owned by a royal family. This decision, prompted by a petition from the brother of former additional chief secretary Shashi Gulati, was surprisingly expedited within a mere 16 days.

Shortly after this decision, Renu’s husband, S.S. Phulia, the current state information commissioner and a former IAS officer, expressed keen interest in acquiring five acres of this prime land. According to official records, Shashi Gulati got hold of this land parcel, but here’s the catch: Some areas in Panchkula have been under a 20-year freeze on land transactions as the authorities grapple with determining surplus land under the Haryana Ceiling on Land Holdings Act.

The Punjab and Haryana high court’s directive in February 2023 added fuel to the fire, compelling Panchkula’s SDM to re-evaluate surplus lands, leading to a series of procedural actions.

In their plea to the Ambala Commissioner, Shashi Gulati’s family argued to scrap the stay order, insisting the land didn’t fall under surplus criteria. Renu Phulia’s decision to overturn the stay order came through a quasi-judicial order in September 2023. She asserted that the land in question fell within permissible areas, further stressing that all necessary government permissions were secured for the purchase. But the controversy refuses to die down.

IPS officer repatriated amid allegations and investigations

An airport drama in Guwahati, complete with allegations, investigations and an IPS officer sent packing! Quite a spicy saga unfolded as a senior IPS officer was swiftly repatriated to his parent Uttar Pradesh cadre, with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) giving him the boot. No reasons given, of course, but just a mysterious shuffle back to where it all began. The snap strike by Vistara Air pilots may have overshadowed this ‘crisis’. Still, some tidbits are slowly emerging about what happened, which the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the home ministry were tight-lipped about.

From what is now known, the Guwahati airport police chief complained to the state police claiming that a senior officer of CRPF in the northeast zone had harassed a female employee at the Guwahati airport. Sensing a potential scandal, a female police officer quickly conducted a preliminary investigation. It was discovered that the officer made not-so-subtle advances to the unwilling recipient. However, what saved the cop was that the lady in question decided not to pursue the matter further. A heartfelt apology was all it took to smooth things over. No case was registered.

While that matter has been hopefully settled, the officer found himself packing his bags and bidding farewell to his temporary posting. What’ll happen to him now, the home ministry will likely decide. For now, he’ll cool his heels in his home state.

AP high court aims at healthcare fund irregularities

The recent buzz around the alleged irregularities in setting up the AP MedTech Zone at Visakhapatnam and the mishandling of funds from the National Health Mission has set tongues wagging in Andhra Pradesh in the middle of poll fever. Further, the Andhra Pradesh high court has served notices to several key officials, including special chief secretary Poonam Malakondiah and AP MedTech Zone CEO Jitender Kumar Sharma.

The allegations swirling around the AP MedTech Zone have raised questions about accountability and oversight in the allocation and utilisation of public funds earmarked for crucial health initiatives. And, in poll season, the issue is likely to pose a problem for the state chief minister, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy who is fighting anti-incumbency.

The decision by the high court to call for counter-affidavits within three weeks demonstrates a commitment to expeditiously address these concerns and ensure accountability. The state government is hoping that the issue will blow over quickly without causing serious damage to its reputation while its opponents would be happy to have it drag. While this legal saga will occupy the time of the concerned officers, hopefully it will provide some much-needed answers to the people in the state.

Tags: ias officer, central reserve police force (crpf), ap high court