Prez trashes charge sheet against whistleblower officer

Prez trashes charge sheet against whistleblower officer

A Haryana government charge sheet against Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who took on the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led dispensation on forest scams and faced its ire, has been quashed by President Pranab Mukherjee.

This is the third time the President has intervened in Chaturvedi’s case in the past five years. In January 2008, he had revoked his suspension, and later quashed major penalty proceedings in January 2011 for preventing destruction of a wildlife sanctuary and misuse of public funds for the construction of a herbal park.

“The charge sheet issued to him by the government of Haryana, dated August 21, 2012, and March 18, 2013, vide which an inquiry was ordered against Sanjiv Chaturvedi, stands revoked/quashed with immediate effect,” said the October 3 order signed by the chief vigilance officer (CVO) of the Environment Ministry on behalf of the President.

Chaturvedi, who is presently the CVO at AIIMS, had locked horns with the Haryana government in January 2009 after he detected a multi-crore plantation scam in Jhajjar. Funds from international donors were not utilised and the “plantation existed only on paper”, and 40 officers were suspended in this connection, according to the IFS officer.

Chaturvedi, transferred 12 times in five years, had alleged that he was first suspended and later the chief minister got a case of abetting suicide registered against him after one of the accused in the scam ended his life.

He also claimed that the government has kept the case open even now, despite the investigating officer having given him a clean chit.

After the Haryana government allegedly began targeting him, he approached the cabinet secretary, who ordered an inquiry by two officers. The inquiry committee report vindicated Chaturvedi's actions in this case and came down heavily on the role of the Chief Minister’s Office.

In July 2011, the Central Vigilance Commission issued directions to the Central Bureau of investigation to look into the plantation scam, and the agency recommended registration of a case in November that year. However, it is alleged that the Haryana government refused to sanction a CBI investigation.

The state government also reportedly refused to relieve Chaturvedi on central deputation in May last year, and initiated framing of a departmental charge sheet against him without considering his reply in the Jhajjar plantation case, only to withhold his vigilance clearance and thereby his relieving for central deputation. The Centre rejected the state’s move and brought him under its own jurisdiction.

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