Over three years after the Centre’s adverse report against it in the afforestation scam highlighted by 2002-batch Haryana cadre Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi, the Haryana government on Monday challenged the report in the Punjab and Haryana high court.
Taking up the petition, the high court has issued notice regarding stay to the Centre for filing a reply by July 14.
This is despite the fact that Chaturvedi’s petition seeking a CBI probe in the case is pending adjudication before the Supreme Court. Whistleblower Chaturvedi had unearthed irregularities in plantations under various centrally sponsored multi-crore schemes in Hisar and other districts of the state in 2008-09 and had alleged the state of “witch-hunting” him after he was chargesheeted. At present, Chaturvedi is on deputation as chief vigilance officer at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.
The two-member committee of union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), in its report of December 8, 2010, had passed serious comments against the offices of the chief minister as well as then state forest minister Kiran Choudhry. “Since, it is not possible for any state agency to conduct inquiry into the working of the CM office, hence it should be immediately referred to the CBI as primafacie there are very strong evidences against the CM office,” the MoEF had recommended.
Even the CBI had given its opinion that the case required a probe from an independent agency. Now the state government has made reference to a letter issued by the department of personnel and training (DoPT) in February 2012 to the Prime Minister’s Of fice saying the inquiry report by the MoEF was “void”.
Also, despite having an array of around 175 law officers, including senior advocates in its advocate general’s office, the state government has shown confidence in the expertise of private senior advocate Rajiv Atma Ram to defend itself. The state government also did not find any of its law officers competent enough to defend its case in the Supreme Court where it has engaged ex-solicitor general of India Rohinton Fali Nariman. The next date of hearing in the Supreme Court is July 22.