Chaturvedi has been fighting back while remaining within the system but it seems
he is tired now. He has been forced to go on leave in spite of his work getting
support from many quarters.
The ministry of environment and forest said in March:
"Having regard to the advice of the Central Vigilance Commissioner and
facts of the case the issues raised (by Chaturvedi) are worthy of an
independent probe by an investigating agency."
The CVC has said on December 16, 2011, that, "The
Central Bureau of Investigation has now informed that issues raised by
Chaturvedi are worthy of an independent probe." Even, CBI says, it is
"willing to take over the investigation of the matter”.
Chaturvedi's allegations against the Bhupinder Singh
Hooda-led government are worthy of investigations but still he has been
transferred. Chaturvedi received a new appointment order on March 26,
for the post of deputy secretary, All India Institute of Medical
Sciences, New Delhi, with instruction for immediate relieving from
When Chaturvedi was not relieved, the Union ministry
of environment and forests sent a telegram on May 7 to the state chief
secretary for immediate relieving of the officer. This has not been
complied with till date.
The ministry sent yet another reminder on May 21, but
the chief secretary still did not for relieve him. On May 31, secretary,
Union ministry of health, wrote a DO letter to the chief secretary for
immediate relieving of the officer in view of the urgent works to be
undertaken at AIIMS as per the recommendation of a parliamentary
committee despite this the Haryana government has chosen not to relieve
Chaturvedi. Thus, the officer has chosen to go on leave. The Haryana
government doesn't want to relieve him due to fear that once he goes out
of the state he may speak out on the issue.
From Kurukshetra, Chaturvedi was transferred to
Fatehabad on May 30, 2007. Here Chaturvedi stopped the illegal
expenditure of public funds, in creating private assets in the name of a
herbal park on the private land of Prahlad Singh Gillakhera, an
influential Congress politician, who was very close to then Haryana
forest minister Kiran Chaudhary and is now chief parliamentary
The state government had proposed to build herbal
parks for eco-preservation seven years ago. These plans have run into
trouble. The government has been busy investing crores of rupees on
private land in the village of the Congress leader although government
land was available.
Chaturvedi was placed under suspension by the Haryana
chief minister without citing any reasons in the order on August 3,
2007. He was punished for resisting corruption. In April 2008, a
voluntary organisation Ekta Parishad moved court in the herbal park
case. In August, 2008 the Prime Minister's Office sought a reply in the
matter from the state but Hooda government did not respond.
The state government transferred the management of
the private land to the forest department in February 2009 unmindful of
the fact that transfer of management under Section 38 of the Indian
Forest Act, 1972, does not affect ownership of the land.
Continuing its harassment of this honest officer, the
Haryana government issued a departmental charge-sheet to the officer for
dismissal/removal from the service on September 14, 2007. In a major
embarrassment, the suspension order of officer was revoked by the
government of India on January 3, 2008. It passed severe strictures
against the state government. Despite this, the Haryana government did
not withdraw the chargesheet because then forest minister Choudhry
returned the file for further comments which remained there till
Choudhry was minister.
After the November 2009 assembly polls, Captain Ajay
Singh Yadav succeeded Choudhry as the state forest minister but nothing
changed. An inquiry officer was appointed in May 2010 -- three years
after the charge-sheet to ensure that Chaturvedi is not promoted, not
sent on deputation or not even be allowed to quit the service at a time
when his next promotion was due.
Chaturvedi has been framed in concocted cases like
stealing a Kachnar tree, abetment to suicide and he was referred to as a
'person of a dubious character' in the charge-sheet. After the
suspension was lifted, Chaturvedi was put in a non-cadre post which was
stayed by the Central Administrative Tribunal. He was finally posted as
divisional forest officer, Jhajjar, in January 2009.
Within one month in Jhajjar, he unearthed a fake
plantation scam worth several crores. A charge-sheet was served on 40
forest staffers, and 10 were suspended. Suspecting involvement of senior
officers, Chaturvedi insisted on a vigilance probe. Instead, the chief
minister's office had him transferred to Hisar in August 2009.
In Hisar, Chaturvedi unearthed yet another plantation
scam and confronted his seniors by repeatedly seeking permission to
initiate criminal proceedings for the embezzlement of public funds. In
January 2010 when he sealed a large plywood unit that had in collusion
with senior forest officers deposited Rs 26,000 instead of Rs 22 lakh as
licence fee. The CMO responded by declaring his post vacant when he was
away on official training in a foreign country for 18 days in March
Chaturvedi reported about large scale embezzlement of
government funds worth crores of rupees in the name of fake plantation,
in Jhajjar division in February, 2009. On the orders of the state
information commission, the office of principal secretary (forest),
Haryana had to pay compensation to Chaturvedi and had to concede in
writing that he was framed wrongly in a charge-sheet in April 2009.
In August 2009, the officer was transferred abruptly
from Jhajjar to Hisar (territorial) Division at the written direction of
the chief minister, with the order being officer specific, clearly
showed that he was being removed to soft-pedal the inquiry into the
multi-crore plantation scam. In this scam, 40 field staff, including
five range officers suspended/chargesheeted, on the report of Chaturvedi
but no senior officer was touched.
When his harassment continued, Chaturvedi submitted a
detailed representation on August 16, 2010 to the cabinet secretary,
government of India, about his harassment. This included 12 posting
orders in five years, illegal suspension, false police cases, a
fabricated charge-sheet kept pending for more than three years to deny
promotion, deputation, etc. He reported about the corruption and
violation of rules cases exposed by him. He made a submission to the
President under Rule 25 of All India Services (Discipline & Appeal)
Rules, 1969 as well on August 30, 2010. As a result a two member inquiry
committee was constituted by the Union ministry of environment & forest
on the directions of cabinet secretariat on September 15, 2010.
The inquiry report of December 2010 found that the
allegations made by Chaturvedi were true and recommended quashing of
fabricated charge-sheet against him. The report recommended CBI inquiry
into corruption/violation cases in view of the direction involvement of
chief minister's office, certain ministers and senior bureaucrats
including the younger sister of the then Haryana chief secretary.
On January 9, 2011, based on the inquiry committee
report, the departmental charge-sheet issued to the officer by the state
government was quashed by the President. It was second such
extraordinary intervention in just three years and perhaps the first
case in the history of independent India when the President had to quash
the charge-sheet, once again with severe strictures.
It was observed that the officer was charge-sheeted
for implementing the orders of Supreme Court and upholding the rule of
law and that the charge-sheet was deliberately kept pending to block the
promotion, deputation, etc. Earlier, the President has quashed the
suspension of the officer. Thus, the Hooda government remains unashamed
despite having been snubbed twice by presidential orders.
When the charge-sheet was quashed, Chaturvedi applied
for central deputation in January, 2011. His case was forwarded by the
state government. Following this the Secretary, MoEF wrote a DO letter
to chief secretary for protection of the officer and for sending his
case for central deputation in September, 2011.
Pursuant to MoEF reference, the CVC issued an
advisory for protection of Chaturvedi and stopping his harassment on
July 13, 2011 but no protection has been provided to him till date. On
August 8, 2011, the CVC referred the case of Saraswati wildlife
sanctuary to the CBI for opinion. The CBI found the case fit case for
investigation on November 1, 2011.
The CVC approved the CBI's opinion on December 16,
2011 and asked the MoEF to take up the issue of registration of the FIR
and subsequent transfer of case to CBI. The MoEF asked the Haryana
government to register an FIR on March 1, 2012 and issued the
notification regarding the CBI investigation. The corruption cases are
likely to involve Hooda's office, his cabinet colleague Choudhry and
about a dozen IFS and IAS officers.
Underlining Chaturvedi's growing stature as an
anti-corruption crusader, he was invited by the prestigious National
Police Academy, Hyderabad to address the IPS probationers and to act as
a resource faculty on anti-corruption strategies on May 4, 2012.
In the meanwhile, Minister for Department of
Personnel and Training V Narayanasamy informed the PMO as per a
confidential note dated on February 16, 2012 that Centre does not have
jurisdiction to intervene in violations of central acts in states or to
protect whistleblowers even if the officers belong to the all-India
services. This note was cited by the Haryana forest minister in the
state assembly on March 6, 2012 in its defence against a CBI probe
ordered by the MoEF into the multi-crore forestry scams and violations
of forest and wildlife laws in the state.
The whistleblower, who has been facing harassment
since 2007, has demanded a CBI probe. The MoEF and CVC have conceded
merit in the demand and recommended a probe.
There seems to be more than mere questionable legal
wisdom behind the DoPT note that was leaked, found its way to the
assembly, and ended up saving the day for the Hooda government. On March
7, when the state wrote to the MoEF arguing against the CBI probe, it
defended its indefensible acts by using the legally and constitutionally
questionable DoPT note to stall the imminent an CBI probe.
Is not quite obvious as to why is Hooda government is
not relieving Chaturvedi to take up the central assignment?
Revealing the current situation, the CVC asked the
MOEF in March to update it about the actions being taken. MoEF in its
reply of March 23 observed, "the action of the government was in the
manner of regularising the violation, ex-post" and dismissed Hooda
government's claim. Prior to Chaturvedi's move to go on leave in June,
the PMO sought a report from MoEF on May 3 about the implementation of
the recommendations of the two-member inquiry committee.
Chaturvedi in a letter on June 9 to Ajit Seth, Union
cabinet secretary wrote, "Because of the continuous harassment,
victimization and witch hunting being faced for past five years not only
my personal life has been devastated but it has also severely affected
mental health of my aged parents ,who are residing alone in Lucknow, and
finally, I had to proceed on leave from June 3,in view of my inability
to sustain the torture unleashed on me.
"Sir, this is the worst kind of witch-hunting and if
the government of India is sincere to the words delivered in the
abovementioned speech at civil services day, you are requested to
immediately intervene to issue appropriate directions to the Haryana
government for my relieving and to get entire episode enquired into by
the CBI, as per the recommendations of CVC, to fix the accountability in
This officer's life and efforts appears to be in
danger zone. Will it be too late before the CBI concludes its probe and
the PMO wakes up from its slumber?