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HomeGlobal NewsWatch: Trainee IAS Officer's First Chat With Media After Big Allegations

Watch: Trainee IAS Officer’s First Chat With Media After Big Allegations

Puja Khedkar joined her new assignment in Maharashtra’s Washim today

Mumbai:

In her first interaction with the media amid serious allegations of misuse of power, trainee IAS officer Puja Khedkar said she was “not authorised” to speak about the matter and added that she is happy to begin her new role in Maharashtra’s Washim.

The 2023-batch IAS officer has hit national headlines in the wake of serious allegations of impropriety and misuse of her position as a bureaucrat. It is alleged that she had been using a siren, VIP number plates and a “Government of Maharashtra” sticker on her privately-owned Audi sedan.

Amid the allegations, she has been transferred to Washim. Responding to the media’s queries this morning, Ms Khedkar said she is not authorised to speak on the allegations against her. “I am very happy to join Washim district and looking forward to working here.”

Pressed further to respond to the allegations, the bureaucrat said, “Government rules do not allow me to speak anything on this matter. So sorry, I cannot speak,” she said.

Among the allegations against her is that she was using Pune Additional Collector Ajay More’s office while he was away. She allegedly removed office furniture and also asked for letterheads. Junior IAS officers, who are on probation for two years after they join the service, are not entitled to such perks.

In a letter to the state’s top civil servants, including Chief Secretary Sujata Saunik, Pune collector Dr Suhas Diwase detailed the charges against the trainee IAS officer.

It has emerged that Ms Khedkar made various unfair demands, the letter states. These included an official car with a VIP number plate, accommodation and an official chamber with adequate staff. According to rules, an officer on probation cannot be provided with these facilities.

Reports suggest that her father – a retired administrative officer – allegedly pushed for her demands to be fulfilled.

The row has also put the spotlight on how Ms Khedkar cleared the UPSC screening process for IAS aspirants — among the toughest competitive exams in the country. Her claim for concession as an OBC candidate has come under the lens too.

It has emerged that she claimed to be a visually and mentally impaired candidate to seek concession, but did not undergo a mandatory medical test for confirmation.

Unconfirmed reports suggest she skipped the tests five times and half-attended a sixth – she did not appear for an MRI test to assess vision loss.

She had ranked 841 in the all-India exam — an unimpressive rank. In fact, the Union Public Service Commission that recruits top civil servants had challenged her selection, and a tribunal ruled against her in February 2023. It is not clear yet how her appointment was confirmed. She passed the uber-competitive Civil Services Exam despite scoring a relatively low all-India rank of 841.



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