Red beacon on Audi, ’non-creamy layer’ certificate: Controversies leading to Pune IAS officer Pooja Khedkar’s transfer

Pooja Khedkar, an IAS trainee officer, sparked unrest within the administration by using unauthorised privileges such as beacon lights on her private vehicle and dedicated staff, leading to her transfer to Washim from Pune.

Livemint
Published10 Jul 2024, 02:17 PM IST
Trainee IAS Pooja Khedkar. (Photo: X)
Trainee IAS Pooja Khedkar. (Photo: X)

The Maharashtra government has transferred IAS probationer officer Pooja Khedkar from Pune to Washim following numerous complaints regarding misuse of power. 

The transfer order, signed by S M Mahadik, assistant secretary of the Maharashtra government, cited administrative reasons for this decision. The action came after a letter from Pune Collector Dr Suhas Diwase to the Chief Secretary.

According to an official letter, “The 2023 batch IAS officer will serve the remaining period of her probation as supernumerary assistant collector in Washim district.” 

Who is Pooja Khedkar?

Pooja Khedkar is an IAS trainee officer from the 2023 batch, having secured rank 821 (PWD-5) in the UPSC exams.

Pooja Khedkar courted controversy over allegedly demanding privileges not accorded to trainees over the past two months. Pooja Khedkar used a red-blue beacon light and a VIP number plate on her private Audi vehicle and installed a 'Maharashtra government' board on her car. A picture of the vehicle with the beacon light went viral, bringing the incident to light.

She also instructed the revenue assistant to provide a letterhead, visiting card, paperweight, nameplate, royal seal and intercom in her name. She also demanded a separate office chamber and dedicated staff despite not being entitled to any of these privileges as a probationer, as per reports.

Also Read: Bihar News: Who is Manish Verma, ex-IAS officer seen as Nitish Kumar’s successor in JD-U? 

There are also speculations that she may have occupied the ante-chamber of Additional District Collector Ajay More without his knowledge, further fueling controversy around her actions.

Her actions have stirred unrest within the administration, leading to her transfer.

Mint couldn't independently verify this development.

Khedkar, the daughter of former civil servant Dilip Khedkar, who served as Commissioner of the Pollution Department, comes from a family with a strong administrative background. Her maternal grandfather, Jagannathrao Budhwant, also had a distinguished career as an IAS officer.

Merit under speculation

Pooja Khedkar gained attention online due to controversy surrounding her appointment and entry into the administrative service. Her appointment was initially denied on February 2, 2022.

Also Read: IAS officers and the notorious transfer culture

In response, she filed an affidavit in court asserting that she was visually impaired and mentally ill. The court scheduled her medical examination four times between July and September 2022. However, she failed to appear for all four examinations, leading the tribunal to deny her relief.

In 2023, her affidavit was reintroduced under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, ultimately resulting in her appointment being approved.

Pretended to be a ‘non-creme layer’?

RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar said Pooja Khedkar became an IAS officer from the OBC non-creamy layer category. However, her father's election affidavit shows his income and wealth as 40 crores.

“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,” Vijay Kumbhar added.

Also Read: ED arrests retired IAS officer in Chhattisgarh liquor scam

A mock interview video of Pooja Khedkar has surfaced, in which she mentions that her parents are separated and that she lives with her mother. This stands in contrast to her father, who contested a recent Lok Sabha election without mentioning any such separation in his affidavit.

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First Published:10 Jul 2024, 02:17 PM IST
HomeNewsIndiaRed beacon on Audi, ’non-creamy layer’ certificate: Controversies leading to Pune IAS officer Pooja Khedkar’s transfer

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