Politics

After Lengthy Battle, Whistleblower Wins Cadre War with Modi Government

File photo of Sanjiv Chaturvedi. Credit: PTI

File photo of Sanjiv Chaturvedi. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The whistleblower officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who last month won the prestigious Magsaysay award for “his exemplary integrity, courage and tenacity in uncompromisingly exposing and painstakingly exposing corruption in public office,” has finally managed to get his cadre changed after struggling for over three years.

On August 12, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) approved the transfer of Chaturvedi—an Indian Forest Service Officer—from the Haryana to the Uttarakhand cadre. The development comes days ahead of Chaturvedi’s investiture ceremony for the Magsaysay Award in the Philippines on August 31.

Earlier in May, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) had quashed an order of the two-member ACC, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, declining Chaturvedi’s cadre change.

Though the Haryana government had said in March 2014 that it had no objection, and both the Uttarakhand government and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had given their nod in April 2014 and July 2014, respectively, Chaturvedi’s request was turned down by the Modi government. Chaturvedi believes this was done to punish him for having exposed certain corruption cases at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where he had served on deputation as Chief Vigilance Officer.

In August 2014 he was removed from his AIIMS post and then in January this year the Modi-led ACC returned his case to the MoEFCC, ordering it to get a fresh no-objection certificate regarding his request for a cadre change from both the state governments.

The CAT stayed the ACC order  and issued notice to the Central government on the basis of a petition in which Chaturvedi alleged discrimination and mala fide action by the Centre because he had crossed swords with Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda in his pursuit of corruption cases.

In May, the CAT quashed the ACC order and gave the Centre two months time to decide the officer’s case. It also passed severe strictures against the Central government, quoting a poem by Rabindranath Tagore articulating the sentiment that a situation should not be created where corruption is awarded and honesty is punished.

However, as the Centre did not act on the order, Chaturvedi moved for contempt on August 10. Two days later, the ACC allowed his request for a change of cadre.

Chaturvedi had struggled for nearly three years to get his cadre changed from Haryana on the grounds of “extreme hardship,” as he was allegedly targeted by the erstwhile Congress-led government in the state for investigating various corruption cases involving powerful individuals. As per rules, cadre transfer is allowed only on grounds of extreme hardship, and marriage.

The officer claimed that he faced 12 transfers in five years, suspension, two major penalty charge-sheets for removal from service, and false police and vigilance cases; his Annual Confidential Report was spoilt; and at one stage the state government even refused to relieve him for Central deputation to AIIMS, where he is at present posted as Deputy Secretary.

However, the whistleblower officer found support from other quarters as four orders from the President of India were issued between 2008 to 2014 to quash various illegal orders of the Hooda government in Haryana against him. Extraordinary orders were also issued in 2012 to enable him to join AIIMS.

A writ petition filed by Chaturvedi for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into various corruption cases exposed by him in Haryana involving the then Forest Minister, Chief Minister’s Office and senior bureaucrats is still pending before the Supreme Court.