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Trainee IAS officer, who used siren on car, 'faked' mental disability? Massive row over appointment process
Image posted on X by @oldschoolmonk

Trainee IAS officer, who used siren on car, 'faked' mental disability? Massive row over appointment process

| @indiablooms | 10 Jul 2024, 11:29 pm

Mumbai/IBNS: Probationary IAS officer Puja Khedkar has submitted an affidavit to the Union Public Service Commission in which she claimed to be visually and mentally impaired to avail of selection process concessions.

She had refused, six times, to undergo a mandatory medical test to confirm her disabilities.

It is unclear how, or why, she was appointed if she declined to appear for the examination.

Unconfirmed reports say the first test had been scheduled at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences for April 2022. She skipped this claiming to have tested positive for COVID-19.

She also skipped two appointments for the following months in July and August and half-attended a sixth one in September. However, she did not appear for an MRI test to assess vision loss.

Instead of attending these tests, Khedkar submitted an MRI report from an external centre, which the UPSC rejected.

The Commission subsequently challenged her selection and, in February 2023, a tribunal ruled against her.

Despite this, her MRI certificate was later accepted and she managed to have her civil service appointment confirmed.

There are also questions over Khedkar claiming an OBC (Other Backward Classes) status.

The falsified statements and allowances gained allowed Khedkar to pass the uber-competitive Civil Services Exam despite scoring a relatively low all-India rank of 841.

Khedkar was transferred from Pune to Washim after her 'exploits' - including the use of a siren on her private vehicle, an Audi luxury sedan - came to light.

Pune Collector Suhas Divase had written to the Chief Secretary of the Maharashtra government to request Puja Khedkar's re-assignment.

"The 2023 batch IAS officer will serve the remaining period of her probation as Supernumerary Assistant Collector in Washim district," the order stated.

Apart from using a siren on her car, VIP number plates, and a sticker saying Government of Maharashtra, Khedkar had also been found using Pune Additional Collector Ajay More's office while he was away. She reportedly removed his nameplate and furniture and even demanded letterheads.

None of these perks are available for junior officers on probation for 24 months. According to reports, her father, a retired administrative officer, had pushed for her demands to be fulfilled.

Apart from the disability claims, inconsistencies were also found in Khedkar's claims to OBC non-creamy layer status.

RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar said that the election affidavit of Dilip Khedkar, father of Puja Khedkar, showed his wealth is worth Rs 40 crore. Given her father’s wealth, Khedkar’s eligibility for OBC non-creamy layer status is under question.

Dilip Khedkar had contested the 2024 Lok Sabha polls on a Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi ticket.

"How can such income fall into the non-creamy layer? She has admitted to being mentally ill and a person with multiple disabilities. However, she skipped medical examinations several times. How did she qualify for IAS? These are big questions," the activist said.

The details of the same have emerged after a controversy arose when the Maharashtra government transferred Khedkar from Pune to Washim due to complaints of power misuse.

This move followed a letter from Pune Collector Dr. Suhas Diwase to the Chief Secretary. Khedkar will now serve as a supernumerary assistant collector in Washim.

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