AIIMS officer's sacking sparks controversy

AIIMS officer's sacking sparks controversy

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan’s decision to remove AIIMS Chief Vigilance Officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi has triggered a controversy with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) smelling foul play as the whistleblower bureaucrat had recommended a CBI probe against hospital officials.

Harsh Vardhan, who has defended his decision, clarified to reporters that Chaturvedi was not eligible to hold the post. “We were informed that without the approval of the Central Vigilance Commission, nobody can be assigned the post of CVO. We took cognizance of the same and removed him from the post,” Vardhan said, replying to queries.

It is alleged that Vardhan acted on a letter from BJP general secretary J P Nadda to him and his predecessor Ghulam Nabi Azad in 2012, stating that the Indian Forest Officer (IFS) was made the CVO though he was not eligible.

Nadda, a member of the standing committee on health, wrote that Chaturvedi was deputy secretary but he was sent on deputation as the CVO, which is an additional secretary level post.

Ghulam Nabi Azad did not act on Nadda’s letter, but forwarded it to the Central Vigilance Commission for appropriate action.

Sources close to Nadda said that the CVC wrote back to the BJP leader saying that Chaturvedi was given additional charge of CVO by former AIIMS director without taking the Commission into confidence.

The BJP general secretary pointed out this ‘anomaly’ to Harsh Vardhan, who decided to remove him on Wednesday before he could complete his term. The charge has now been given to Joint Secretary and CVO of Union Health Ministry, Vishwas Mehta.

The AAP demanded that the health minister must resign for removing an honest officer and released a letter to show that Nadda had objected to  Chaturvedi’s appointment but his objection was overruled as the appointment was in accordance with rules and approved by the health secretary.

“On what basis has Dr Harsh Vardhan forced the health ministry to do a U-turn and reverse its stand within three months?,” the AAP questioned in a statement issued to press.

Giving an interesting twist to Nadda’s intervention, the AAP charged that the BJP MP wanted Chaturvedi out since the CBI, on “his recommendation  had registered a case of corruption against Vineet Chaudhary, a Himachal Pradesh cadre IAS officer”.

Nadda belongs to Himachal Pradesh, which is the parent cadre of Chaudhary, who was on deputation as Deputy Director at AIIMS.

Chaturvedi was transferred 12 times in five years by the Congress government of Haryana, which also implicated him in half a dozen false cases and suspended him, said the AAP.

The PMO had intervened to get him a central deputation. The President had quashed his suspension orders, it noted.

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