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HomeUncategorized"Accountability From Within...": Shiv Sena MP Milind Deora Amid Row Over Trainee...

“Accountability From Within…”: Shiv Sena MP Milind Deora Amid Row Over Trainee IAS Officer Puja Khedkar

'Accountability From Within...': Shiv Sena MP Milind Deora Amid Row Over Trainee IAS Officer Puja Khedkar

Puja Khedkar was a 2023-batch IAS officer (File).

Mumbai:

Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Milind Deora has called for “accountability from within” the system for the country’s bureaucracy, including the Indian Administrative Service that is the backbone of domestic governance. Mr Deora’s comments come amid outrage over the Puja Khedkar row.

A 2003-batch IAS officer, Ms Khedkar made headlines this week after it emerged she may have lied about suffering visual and mental disabilities to secure a posting despite a low qualifying score, and then wheedled officials into giving her perks not permitted for on-probation officers.

Individuals in public service, Mr Deora said, had to be held accountable for their actions.

Politicians, he pointed out, had such a system – an election. “Many times we politicians are criticised, regardless of which party we belong to… and rightfully so, I welcome it. But please keep in mind politicians still have a system of accountability. We get voted in and voted out…”

“Ultimately the public has the ability to throw us out of office.”

“But bureaucracy in India remains a largely unaccountable force… and ensuring accountability from within is very critical. Therefore, I say again, authorities must take swift action in this case.”

NDTV Explains | Who Is Puja Khedkar, What Is The Controversy Around Her

Mr Deora also demanded accountability from the judiciary.

“When we talk of reforms and improving governance… I believe politicians have that accountability but we have to also talk about judicial and administrative (or bureaucracy) reforms. How, in fact, are we making these pillars of our democracy more accountable? You can’t just say ‘we are making politicians accountable’… but then the judiciary and bureaucracy have no accountability.”

“Based on the reports I have read it is disturbing. I believe people who enter public service, bureaucrats or politicians or even those in the media, we have to hold ourselves to a standard. We have to ask ourselves why we are in our chosen professions…” Mr Deora told NDTV.

He referred to the “long legacy… (of) excellent bureaucrats” from Maharashtra and said he had, therefore, been “very perturbed” to hear of Ms Khedkar’s actions. “If this is the prevailing culture, we must weed out it immediately,” Mr Deora said, calling for a “through and impartial” inquiry.

“If these charges are found to be true… such officers must not be tolerated,” he said, stressing the need to inculcate a “culture of solid public service that is citizen friendly”.

READ | “Get It Done Before I Join…”: IAS Officer Puja Khedkar’s Messages

“We must do more to ensure such people don’t end up in public service,” he said, declaring those not fit should be encouraged not to enter the Civil Service. “The kind of culture we create is very important because, to be very frank with you, it is the bureaucrats who ultimately deliver public services.” 

Earlier today Mr Deora also posted on X (formerly Twitter) to voice his concern.

READ | “Those Lacking Merit, Ethics Not Fit…”: Sena MP On Trainee IAS Officer

“The allegations against IAS officer Pooja Khedkar are a serious reputational hazard to the service. Are you in government to serve or due to a sense of entitlement? I urge Maharashtra’s Chief Secretary to conduct a comprehensive and impartial investigation into these allegations without delay,” he said.

“Ensuring justice and preserving public trust in our administrative service is crucial. The UPSC (the Union Public Service Commission, the training organisation) is known for producing high-caliber officers for public service. Those lacking merit and ethics are not fit to hold public offices,” he added.

A 2023-batch IAS officer, Ms Khedkar faces multiple charges. Since the allegations surfaced, she has been shunted out of her post as an Assistant Collector in Pune to a supernumary position in Washim.

WATCH | Trainee IAS Officer’s First Chat With Media After Big Allegations

In her first interaction with the media since the allegations broke, Ms Khedkar said she was “not authorised” to speak about the matter and that she is “happy” to begin her new role.

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