The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has quashed the decision of a Cabinet committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that could have stalled the inter-cadre transfer of whistleblower Indian Forest Service officer Sanjeev Chaturvedi.
Stating that a system where “honesty is punished and corruption is rewarded” cannot last long, the tribunal directed the government to re-examine his case in the next two months and asked Chaturvedi to approach the tribunal again if the justice was not done.
The Haryana cadre officer has sought transfer to the Uttarakhand cadre on grounds of “extreme hardship” and “relentless prosecution” merely because he opposed expenditure of public funds on private land for a herbal park in Haryana.
He had got consent from the Haryana and Uttarakhand governments for the transfer, a must requirement for the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) to consider a cadre transfer case. Chaturvedi’s plea was also supported by the environment minister Prakash Javadekar who recommended his case to the Cabinet Committee in July 2014.
Soon after Javadekar’s recommendation, the health ministry then headed by Harshvardhan sacked Chaturvedi as the chief vigilance officer of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) reportedly at the behest of JP Nadda, now health minister.
Chaturvedi had exposed corruption in AIIMS and sought inquiry against a Himachal cadre IAS officer. Nadda is also from Himachal.
The ACC took up Chaturvedi’s plea almost six months after the AIIMS controversy and rejected the environment ministry’s recommendation. It instead asked Chaturvedi to produce fresh no-objection letters from the two state governments for the transfer.
Chaturvedi challenged the committee’s decision on the ground that there was no requirement of fresh no-objection letters even though there was change of government at the Centre and the forest service rules does not provide for seeking second consent for inter cadre transfer.
While quashing the order the tribunal quoted Nobel Prize winner poet Rabindranath Tagore to describe the hardship faced by Chaturvedi. The government told the tribunal that it was willing to re-examine Chaturvedi’s case and the CAT gave government two months to decide on his case.