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HomeGlobal NewsExplained: Who Is Puja Khedkar And What Is The Controversy Around Her

Explained: Who Is Puja Khedkar And What Is The Controversy Around Her

Explained: Who Is Puja Khedkar And What Is The Controversy Around Her

Puja Khedkar, a probationary IAS officer in Maharashtra, is in the eye of a storm over alleged misuse of power. She was transferred from Pune to Washim after it came to light that she was using a private Audi car with a siren and VIP number plate — privileges that are reserved for senior officials.

Who is Puja Khedkar?

Ms Khedkar is a 2023-batch IAS officer who secured an all-India rank (AIR) 841 in the UPSC exam. She comes from a family dedicated to public service, with her father, Dilip Khedkar, being a retired administrative officer. Her actions, however, have put her in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. 

The controversy

Ms Khedkar was using her private Audi – a luxury sedan – with a “Government of Maharashtra” sticker and a red-blue beacon in Pune. Even before joining as an assistant collector, she had demanded an official car with a VIP number plate, accommodation, an official chamber with adequate staff, and a constable. A trainee officer is not entitled to these privileges. 

Reports suggest that her father, leveraging his position as a retired administrative officer, even pressured the District Collector’s office to fulfill his daughter’s demands. This influence extended to her workplace behaviour where she allegedly removed the nameplate of senior officer Ajay More in the Pune collector’s office to use the space for herself. 

These actions were seen as a misuse of power and resulted in her transfer from Pune to Washim. She will now be serving as a supernumerary assistant collector in the Washim district, where she will complete her training until July 30, 2025, according to an order issued by the Pune District Collector to the Chief Secretary. 

Ms Khedkar also claimed to be from the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category, which has an income cap of Rs 8 lakh per annum for the non-creamy layer certificate. However, her father’s election affidavit showed assets worth Rs 40 crore and an annual income of Rs 43 lakh, raising questions about her eligibility as an OBC candidate.

The 2023-batch IAS officer also claimed to have multiple disabilities, including a learning disability, and sought special accommodations during her UPSC examination. However, she did not disclose the nature or extent of her disabilities.

Vijay Kumbhar, an RTI activist, pointed out that she skipped medical examinations several times, citing Covid restrictions.

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