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Harassed for honesty? RTI protects

Harassed for honesty? RTI protects
Highlights

An officer came before the CIC, seeking a copy of an IB report in his case. He got second rank in IFS, received two special medals from President. As...

An officer came before the CIC, seeking a copy of an IB report in his case. He got second rank in IFS, received two special medals from President. As Divisional Forest Officer, Kurukshetra, Chaturvedi stopped large-scale habitat destruction including felling of trees and poaching of wildlife in the Saraswati Wildlife Sanctuary by the contractors of irrigation department.

In retaliation, he was moved to remote Fatehabad in 2007, where he stopped misuse of public funds to create private assets in the name of creation of a herbal park in the private land of politician. He was suspended. First false case was filed against him on the charge of a theft of a tree and criminal intimidation.

The President of India revoked his suspension in 2008. He was not posted anywhere till 2008 and then posted as DFO, Mewat, a non-cadre post, which was stayed by the CAT (Chandigarh). He was given cadre posting in Jan 2009 as DFO, Jhajjar.

RTI protects honest officer
A departmental enquiry on false charge was ordered to deprive him of promotion. He sought information under RTI, which was denied by the State. Haryana State Information Commission awarded Rs 10,000 compensation to be paid by the department for harassment and detriment caused.

At Jhajjar, he exposed multi-crore plantation scam where crores of public funds were siphoned off in the guise of fake plantation, which led to suspension and charge-sheeting of 40 field staff. Second false case was filed against appellant, alleging he abetted suicide by a suspended employee of a plantation, though father of the deceased employee complained that one lady was suspected for murder. His name was inserted in FIR.

Though the investigating officer concluded it as suicide under influence of alcohol, the State government prevailed upon father to implicate him. Forensic reports proved these claims wrong. File notings proved the CM was behind this transfer.

At Hisar, he unearthed another plantation scam wherein funds of the central government sponsored schemes were embezzled and this scam involved senior officers who were very close to the Chief Minister. He also caused closure of a large plywood unit for depositing Rs 26,000 as license fee against requirement of Rs 22 lakh, and faced third transfer.

On his request, the Cabinet Secretary constituted a 2-member Inquiry Committee in 2010, which confirmed that he was harassed by the CM. About the role of the then Forest Minister, the Committee observed; “In this whole episode, the role of the then Forest Minister is very evident.

The evidences are her “annoyance on the stoppage of the work of the Herbal Park.” About the victimisation of the petitioner, the Committee observed, “this is a case which shows the level of degradation that has crept into our administrative system, ….a junior officer of an All India Service was harassed through all the means available with the concerned authorities of the State Government, which include frequent transfers, long spells without posting, arbitrary suspension,

issuing a fabricated charge-sheet, keeping the charge-sheet pending for long period to stall the promotion, registration of false cases, spoiling the ACR, etc., only for doing his statutory duties. On the basis of the available documents, it is proved beyond doubt that the only cause for the harassment of the officer was his stand in protecting a Wild Life Sanctuary against destruction from powerful contractors, opposing the illegal expenditure of public funds to create private assets on the private land of politically influential person in the name of development of the Herbal Park and exposing large-scale financial irregularities in plantation projects, funded by the Central Government,

as well as International Donor Agencies. Certain features of this case are very shocking – that the officer was first transferred, then issued warning by the State Govt., then suspended and finally issued a charge-sheet under major penalty (which has been deliberately kept pending for more than three years) for the same act of preventing the destruction of a Wildlife Sanctuary,

in implementing the orders of Hon’ble Supreme Court (according to which the prior permission of Supreme Court has to be taken before undertaking construction activities in the protected areas)/provision of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Forest (Conservation Act), 1980 (both are Central Acts) – this may be the first instance in the administrative history of the country,

when a State Govt. suspended and charge-sheeted an AIS officer for the implementation of the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court; even when the officer represented against the illegal warning in this case, his submitting the representation was itself considered as a misconduct by the State Govt. and was inserted as a charge in the charge-sheet; the open use of public funds to create private assets on the private land of politically influential persons; preparing a highly fabricated/illegal charge-sheet by a state government against its own official, in which,

even the compliance report of the officer was concealed to create the charge of insubordination; during his five year tenure in the state, the officer was kept without any cadre posting for 2 ½ years and served 11 posting orders, routinely after exposing scams, while no action seems to have ever been taken against the officers involved in the various scams which include the case of Jhajjar Forest Division, where out of 37 beats of the whole division,

fake payments were detected in 26 beats, but even then no action was taken by the State Government against the concerned DFO responsible for these irregularities; the mere allegations of a forest encroacher were thought to be enough by the State Government to charge-sheet the officer under major penalty,

and the charge still not being removed despite exoneration by State Vigilance Bureau and departmental inquiry, more than two years back; even the personal life of the officer was dragged, into the said charge-sheet despite the charges being quashed by High Court; a trivial incident of the probation period was inserted into the charge-sheet; going beyond the jurisdiction and despite the fact that the competent authority in the matter i.e.

Director, IGNFA, had already made it clear that it was a routine matter, which was closed and no further action was needed; repeated violations of cadre rules by State Government in which cadre officers were kept without posting and non-cadre officers were given cadre postings despite statutory rulers and strong directives of the Central Government; defense of the violators at the cost of public exchequer by the State Government,

while penalising the officer for implementing the statutory provisions; even after the charges of the charge-sheet, being adjudicated by Hon’ble Supreme Court appointed CEC (which found the charges of violation true and State Govt. had to deposit Rs. 1.00 Crores)/ Allahabad High Court/State Information Commission (where the state govt. had to accept in written that the said charge-sheet was framed wrongly and had to pay a compensation of Rs. 10000/- to the officer)/Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in the officer’s favour, etc. and in fact,

the officer getting awards for his role, including the one given by National Advisory Council member, Ms. Aruna Roy, the State Govt. seems to be hell bent on somehow keeping that fabricated charge-sheet pending to keep the officer continuously on tenterhooks.”

The State Government did not act to fix responsibility and to take action against the officials for corruption proved by appellant. Centre referred the entire case to Central Vigilance Commission in 2011, since state refused to take action on inquiry committee report.

The CVC referred the matter to CBI, who concluded that: The issues raised by Chaturvedi were analyzed in CBI and were found to be worthy of an independent probe. … CBI is willing to taker over investigation of this matter, provided an FIR pertaining to the offences is first registered with Haryana Police and the State Government issues a notification u/s 6 of DSPE act, 1946, for transferring the said case to CBI.

This would be required to be followed by issuance of a notification by the Central Government u/s 5 of DSPE Act, 1946. This issues with the approval of Director, CBI.”

As Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) at AIIMS, he exposed unauthorised foreign trips, got seized banned drugs worth Rs 6 crore from a vehicle supplying drugs to an on-campus pharmacy owned by an MLA. The then Health Minister signed two internal reports which rated his work as a CVO as "outstanding."

He also initiated actions in around 200 corruption cases during his working as CVO; punishment was imposed in 78 cases, chargesheet was issued in 87 cases and more than 20 cases were referred to CBI for criminal investigation. In 2014, he was relieved from the additional charge of CVO. He continued as the Deputy Director at AIIMS.

He applied for change of cadre from Haryana to Uttarakhand in 2012 on grounds of extreme hardships including frequent transfers, suspension and false police/departmental cases. The Central Information Commission approved that the copy of the IB report is the information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations and thus shall be given to him as per proviso in Section 24 of RTI Act.

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