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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Government forces AIIMS whistleblower officer out

Saikat Datta, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 21, 2014
First Published: 01:23 IST(21/8/2014) | Last Updated: 12:21 IST(21/8/2014)

Senior bureaucrat Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who blew the whistle on scams in Congress-ruled Haryana and at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), has been unceremoniously removed as chief vigilance officer of the premier hospital by the NDA government.

Chaturvedi, an IFS officer, faced a flurry of cases and transfer orders from the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government in Haryana for taking on politicians and senior bureaucrats. After moving to AIIMS in 2012 on central deputation, the prime minister’s office intervened to ensure he wasn’t removed from his post. Taking a similar stand, Parliament’s standing committee on health and family welfare also issued a notice to the government when then health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad proposed shifting him out.

Documents accessed by HT show the health ministry defended Chaturvedi’s appointment as late as May 23 this year. Dr Vishwas Mehta, joint secretary, recorded in internal file notings that the “performance of Chaturvedi has been exemplary and he is known for his absolute integrity. He has been instrumental in exposing corruption and based on his findings, inquiries have been initiated against some officers by investigating agencies like CBI”.
 
Sources also told HT the Central Vigilance Commission had written to the ministry in September 2012 and January 2013, stating that it was not consulted while appointing Chaturvedi. Both the ministry and AIIMS had defended the appointment on the grounds that the institute was autonomous.
 
The move against Chaturvedi — whose case seems to draw a parallel with that of Haryana IAS officer Ashok Kehmka — comes after his appointment was opposed by BJP MP JP Nadda, sources said.

Nadda reportedly wrote to health minister Harsh Vardhan, who ordered a review of the case.

The health ministry’s official response on Wednesday was also starkly different from its May 23 position. “There is no independent post of CVO in AIIMS. Nadda has written to the present health minister pointing out irregularities in the assignment of charge of CVO in AIIMS,” the statement said.

It added that “the complaints against Chaturvedi are at a preliminary inquiry stage” and that “the ministry is not aware of the details of vigilance inquiries in AIIMS as they are internal matters of AIIMS”.

AS AIIMS CVO, Chaturvedi initiated major cases that have now been handed over to the CBI. In January, the CBI registered a case accusing a senior IAS officer of corruption during his tenure with AIIMS. Another case was against a senior police officer, also while on deputation to AIIMS.

When contacted by HT, Chaturvedi refused to comment. Nadda did not respond to calls and messages requesting comment.

(Inputs from Rhythma Kaul)


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