Did trainee IAS officer Puja Khedkar fake disability? Massive row over selection

Puja Khedkar, a probationary IAS officer, claimed to be mentally ill and have low vision in the form submitted for the civil services exam. However, Khedkar, who was given concession due to the disabilities, refused to undergo medical tests for the same.
Did trainee IAS officer Puja Khedkar fake disability? Massive row over selection
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

Probationary IAS officer Puja Khedkar is in the news after she was transferred from Pune for alleged misuse of power. The controversy led to the uncovering of details about her attempts at the civil services exam, revealing that she claimed to be visually impaired and mentally ill in the affidavit submitted to the Union Public Service Commission.

The disabilities mentioned by Khedkar were used to receive special concessions during her UPSC selection. Despite her low examination marks, these concessions made it possible for her to clear the exams, and she secured an All India Rank (AIR) of 841.

Following her selection, the UPSC required her to undergo medical tests to verify her disabilities. However, Khedkar refused to attend these examinations on six different occasions.

Her first scheduled medical examination at AIIMS in Delhi was on April 22, 2022, which she missed, claiming she was Covid positive. Subsequent appointments on May 26 and 27 at AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi were also skipped. She continued to avoid the tests, missing another appointment on July 1. Although she initially agreed to a medical examination on August 26, 2022, she did not show up for the crucial MRI on September 2, meant to assess her vision loss.

Instead of attending these tests, Khedkar submitted an MRI report from an external centre, which the UPSC rejected. The UPSC then challenged her selection in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which ruled against her on February 23, 2023.

Despite this, her MRI certificate was later accepted, confirming her IAS appointment.

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 to be worth Rs 40 crore. Given her father’s wealth, Khedkar’s eligibility to 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.

During her probation in Pune, Khedkar was found to have made several demands for privileges not allowed to probationary officers. She used her private Audi car with a red-blue beacon light and a VIP number plate, installed a ‘Maharashtra government’ board on her vehicle, and requested an official car, accommodation, an office chamber, and additional staff.

She even occupied the ante-chamber of the additional collector in his absence and instructed staff to provide personalized office supplies.

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Did trainee IAS officer Puja Khedkar fake disability? Massive row over selection

Her father, a retired administrative officer, reportedly pressured the District Collector's office to fulfill her demands, threatening consequences if they were not met.

Source: India Today

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