In a rebuff to the state authorities, the Centre has brushed aside objections of the Haryana government to Sanjiv Chaturvedi, a 2002-batch Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer, joining his new assignment at All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) on central deputation without "its concurrence".
The state government had strongly objected to the union ministry of environment and forests' (MoEF) unilateral action of relieving the whistleblower IFS officer without its go-ahead as "bad and not acceptable". The MoEF has, however, ignored the objections, stating that Chaturvedi was relieved for taking up his assignment as deputy secretary, AIIMS, under the ministry of health and family welfare on the advice of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Government of India.
The IFS officer, who blew the whistle on several plantation scams in the state, was selected for the AIIMS assignment after his application for the central deputation was sent by the state government and the environment and forests ministry gave the cadre clearance.
The MoEF and the health and family welfare ministry requested the state government to relieve him, but the officer was not relieved by the state, according to a letter sent by MoEF to the chief secretary, Haryana, last week.
"The officer submitted a representation contending that his relieving to join the new assignment as per DoPT's order is being deliberately held to further harass him and cause delay which may bar him for central deputation," it wrote, giving a reference to the proceedings in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) on the matter.
Though the state authorities were against relieving Chaturvedi for central deputation despite having forwarded his application at first, the MoEF issued the relieving order on June 29, 2012 after the officer had sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention to get the irregularities investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and for relieving him for central deputation.
He had also accused the state top brass of the "worst kind of witch hunting".
The MoEF's action - a rare instance where a union ministry issued the relieving order of an all-India service officer at its own level - rubbed the state government the wrong way. "The order is out of place. Under the scheme of things, the state government has full control over the officers borne on its cadre as members of All India Services (AIS)… the advice of DoPT to the environment and forests ministry is violative of the very spirit of management of AIS," the then additional chief secretary, forest, Manik Sonawane wrote to the Centre on July 25.
He further said that the MoEF was "stepping over the powers of the state government and its order of relieving the officer was bad and not acceptable".
Chaturvedi, who won the Manjunath Shanmugham Integrity Award in 2009 for performing his duty honestly, had to face 12 transfer orders in the past five years, suspension and a department chargesheet after he unearthed irregularities in plantations under various centrally sponsored schemes and ruffled political feathers in the state.
After he submitted a petition against his harassment to the President, the Centre intervened and quashed the chargesheet in January 2011 on the basis of findings of an inquiry conducted by a two-member team of MoEF. The state government had objected to the findings, but "withdrew" the chargesheet.
Jan 27, 2011: Sanjiv Chaturvedi requests state government to send his name for central deputation
Sept 7: Govt forwards request, but makes adverse remarks
May 4, 2012: Chaturvedi picked for AIIMS assignment
May 7: MoEF sends telegram asking state to relieve him
May 21: MoEF sends reminder as government drags its feet
May 31: Union health ministry asks the state to immediately relieve him
June 20: DoPT advises MoEF to relieve the officer
June 29: MoEF unilaterally relieves the IFS officer
July 27: Haryana raises objections to the action of the ministry
Sept 10: MoEF brushes aside the state's objections