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Vol. 6 | Issue 3 | June 2012
Hooda protects forest mafia?
Sanjiv Chaturvedi’s story exposes the links that bind politicians & officials to corrupt businessmen
by Neeraj Mahajan
Sanjiv Chaturvedi, a 2002 batch Indian Forest Service (IFS) Haryana cadre officer, is these days running from pillar to post to get himself posted out of Haryana. But much as the Hooda Government in the State may hate his guts, it is not inclined to let him leave the jaatland at any cost.
Being a Central Service officer, Chaturvedi has petitioned the Centre seeking a transfer from Haryana. But whatever be the outcome of his petition, this case will go down in the history of Centre-State relationships, as for the first time in independent India an officer was suspended and chargesheeted for dismissal from service for performing his constitutional duty. It is also the only instance where the Centre intervened after about three-and-a-half years to quash the chargesheet buried in State Government files on direct orders on behalf of the President.
Chaturvedi’s crime: he was diligently doing his duty. In the process, however, he upset the coterie of power brokers -- politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and contractors – whom he exposed as being involved in conspiring, promoting or shielding those responsible for felling trees, poaching wildlife, making bogus payments for plantations that did not exist, encroaching forest land and destroying forests in the name of development. His is a story that brings into focus the problems and travails of all Central Service officers. This is also a story which reinforces a confirmed belief about the bureaucracy where the good boys get punished while the bad ones end up having all the fun.
But first a brief background about the who controversy:
Scene 1: In his very first posting, Sanjiv Chaturvedi received reports about illicit felling of trees, destruction of forests, digging of canal and poaching of rare species of Hog deer in the Saraswati Wildlife Sanctuary – a reserve forest in Kurukshetra. These reports alleged that all these illegal activities were being done with the connivance of the Deputy Commissioner, Kurukshetra, and other high-ranking officials.
Chaturvedi seriously thought it to be his duty to protect forests and the wildlife. As per Section 66 of the Indian Forest Act 1927, it is the mandatory duty of a forest officer to prevent the commission of a forest offence. Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act equates anything that alters the boundaries of a sanctuary as an offense for which the penalty is imprisonment up to 7 years. This apart, various Supreme Court orders state that any digging, construction or developmental activity inside a sanctuary or protected area is prohibited without its prior permission.
Chaturvedi’s story brings into focus the problems and travails of all Central
Service officers. It also reinforces the belief about the bureacracy where the
good boys get punished while the bad ones end up having all the fun.
Being new to service, Chaturvedi believed that it was his duty to stand-up for the right cause. At least this is what had learnt in the Academy, where he stood second on an all-India basis and won two President’s silver medals for excellence in training.
As the officer responsible for protecting the Saraswati Wildlife Sanctuary, he lodged an FIR against the poachers and informed the higher authorities. This turned out to be his biggest mistake. Little did he know that rules are for fools. His move ruffled the wings of the politically well-connected contractors and officials of the State Irrigation Department and they decided to teach him a few lessons about minding his own business. Though Chaturvedi represented, his pleas were ignored and instead he was issued a ‘warning’ for his ‘misconduct’. One of the charges against him was creating problems for the Deputy Commissioner.
The extent of the cover-up operation can be judged from the fact that the State’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, J K Rawat, by-passed everyone in the hierarchy to complain against the officer directly to the Chief Minister, who promptly issued Chaturvedi’s transfer orders. This was the beginning of a long story of injustice. How else do you explain why no action was taken against the Chief Wildlife Warden R D Jakati who was allegedly involved in allowing illegal transportation through the sanctuary and who was instead promoted as Director of the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy.   
Scene 2: Chaturvedi’s next posting found him in Fatehabad where he stumbled upon a conspiracy to develop a herbal park on land belonging to the local MLA and Chief Parliamentary Secretary Prahlad Singh Gillakhera using public funds. He raised the objection on how could the Government spend public money on private land, especially when government land was available? And instead of action, he got a threatening call from one Pratap Singh, a co-owner of the land who claimed to be close to Forest Minister Kiran Chaudhary. Importantly, his immediate superior also informed him of how his action had annoyed Forest Minister Kiran Chaudhary. The same day, the Panchayat of Gilla Khera village, which was an interested party as some land belonged to it, passed a resolution condemning the officer’s role in stopping the work on the herbal park. Thus, in less than two months of landing in Fatehabad, Chaturvedi was posted out once again on direct orders from the Chief Minister’s office.
Scene 3: Chaturvedi was then shunted to Hissar and subsequently to Jhajjar, which comes under the Rohtak Parliamentary constituency of Deepender Singh Hooda, MP and son of Chief Minister, Bhupendra Singh Hooda. In Jhajjar he found his field staff to be involved in a multi crore plantation scam in which fake payments were being made to non-existent plantations. Duty-bound, Chaturvedi chargesheeted almost the entire field staff of the division and suspended two range officers. Clearly, such a big scam was not possible without the involvement of senior officers, especially as the scam had allegedly being going on for two years.
There were quite a few similarities between this and another scam he exposed in Hissar where fake payments were being made for a plantation on a 200 acre area. Also while in Hissar, Chaturvedi had sealed a plywood unit, which was found to be paying just Rs 26,000 as license fee instead of the Rs 22 lakh fixed by the CEC. That there were many higher ups directly involved in this became amply clear when he started facing pressure to unseal the unit. When he refused to oblige, he was declared persona non-grata and asked to move out.
Dramatis Personae
Bhupinder Singh Hooda, CM Haryana
Supreme commander of the alleged cover-up operation to save his men involved in cutting forests and destroying wildlife to recover land for developmental activities. He wanted to get political mileage for getting the
Hansi-Butana canal built near the Saraswati Wildlife Sanctuary in Kurukshetra and Kaithal districts. on his behalf, the whole battle was transformed into a personal slander campaign, with Sanjiv Chaturvedi being called ‘person of dubious character’ and his wife Purnima Chaturvedi
being compelled to file for divorce.
Deepender Singh Hooda, MP from Rohtak & son of CM, Bhupendra Singh Hooda
Jhajjar – where a multi-crore plantation was exposed is part of his parliamentary constituency
R R Beri (OSD to CM) and R D Sheokand (CM Office)
Reportedly headed the control room for recommending removal from service, harassment, chargesheet, suspension and manipulating punishment postings from CM’s office
Kiran Choudhary, Cabinet Minister, Currently Excise &
Taxation Minister, who was earlier the Forest Minister ,
She is daughter-in-law of former Haryana Chief Minister
Bansi Lal and close to former Union Minister Jagdish Tytler
As Forest Minister, she was allegedly the key person heading the cover-up
operations and initiated action against Chaturvedi on the basis of a representation from the ‘accused’ landowners. She was the one who proposed suspension of the officer in a letter to the Chief Minister. Such was her pressure that though the CM returned the file asking for the officer’s explanation before approving the suspension, the file was immediately recalled and the officer suspended without any explanation. Also, a chargesheet for dismissal from service was issued without any preliminary enquiry.
Significantly, In a separate case, she was interrogated by the CBI for entering into a criminal conspiracy with Bombay Port Trust Chairman, Dinesh Afzalpurkar and Vice-Chairman B P Pandey to get prime property at
Ballard Estate in south Bombay at Rs 57.20 per sqm, a pittance compared to prevailing market rates.
Capt. Ajay Yadav, Power & Forest Minister and father-in-law of former Bihar Chief Minister Laloo Prasad's daughter Anushka.
Concealing the facts to shield the accused, he wrote an unsigned letter in March 2011. He and his sister, Justice Nirmal Yadav of Punjab and Haryana High Court, were accused of influencing a land deal in Solan (HP) by pressurising a tehsildar. The Yadavs were accused of corruption, destruction and fabrication of evidence. Nirmal Yadav become the first judge to be chargesheeted while still in office. Justice KG Balakrishnan, the then Chief Justice of India, appointed a committee of judges to study the allegations against her.
Promilla Issar (IAS 1972) superseded Deepa Jain Singh of the 1971 batch to become the second woman Chief
Secretary of Haryana. She is now retired and a member of the Chandigarh Bench of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). Sometime back there was a big furore when a section of advocates complained to the CAT Bar Association about Issar’s rude and discriminatory behaviour and decided not to appear before the bench.
Was a party to the suspension of the officer as the Chief Secretary. She is
understood to have entertained a petition to quash the orders of the President of India. Significantly, just last month, the Punjab and Haryana High Court pulled up Haryana Vigilance Bureau for trying to shield Issar (Financial Commissioner in 2003) and a few other IAS officers responsible for transferring
209 acres and 16 marlas of village common land in Palwal to a Delhi based company. She almost had her way till Surina Rajan who succeeded her came across the ‘error’ while deciding a review petition, which was promptly set aside and a title suit was filed before the competent revenue court for cancellation of registration of the land in name of the company.
Ranjit Singh Dalal, DG Police, Haryana
Ordered IG Rohtak Rohit Mittal to arrest Sanjiv Chaturvedi and frame him
in false cases.
Prahlad Singh Gillakhera, Independent MLA and Chief
Parliamentary Secretary (Forest).
Owner of the land for the herbal park, he was quite close to Kiran Chaudhary. he incurred illegal expenditure of public funds on his private land in Fatehabad herbal park and threatened the officer.
Keshani Anand Arora, IAS, then Principal Secretary (Forest) and now DDG, UIDAI, Chandigarh (real younger sister of Urvarshi Gulati, Chief Secretary, Haryana,) .
Close to Kiran Chaudhary, having served with her as Financial Commissioner (Tourism), she overruled her senior to constitute an enquiry
three years after the chargesheet. She deliberately kept decisions pending,
sat over Chaturvedi’s representations and not to respond to any reminder from the Central Government. Despite her negative role and strictures in an enquiry, she managed to get a sensitive Central Deputation.
H C Disodia, IAS, then Principal Secretary (Forest)
He prepared the chargesheet and intimidated Sanjiv Chaturvedi.
J K Rawat, IFS, then PCCF Haryana, now retired
Directly wrote to the Chief Minister and initiated the move to chargesheet
the officer. He was allegedly functioning as a rubber stamp for the Minister
and fulfilling her desires on file. He tried to spoil the ACR of Chaturvedi and on several occasions denied information to him relating to his suspension.
M M Joshi, IFS; M S Malik, IFS; M L Rajvanshi, IFS and V K Jhajharia, IFS.
Involved in plantation scams in Hisar and Jhajjar. MM Joshi who was the Conservator of Forest (West) initiated into a misleading report in 2007 that
was shielding the accused based on which the officer was suspended.
TK Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, Kurukshetra
Used a ‘false’ complaint by hotelier KK Garg to initiate vigilance probe and
mount pressure on Chaturvedi.
For Chaturvedi, his five years of service have seen him undergo 12 punishment postings, suspension and chargesheets for dismissal from service apart from attempts to implicate him in false and baseless criminal and financial fraud cases. There have been attempts to sabotage his ACR and promotion. Anyone who dared to speak on his behalf was also transferred. He has been called ‘person of dubious character’ and his wife Purnima was instigated to file for divorce, allegedly by a Haryana cadre IAS officer. It is a different story that that he has been exonerated in all such cases by the judicial authorities.
And, all this for being an impediment in the path of the unscrupulous Government employees and contractors reportedly close to the then Forest Minister Kiran Chaudhary and the local MLA. In fact, it is alleged that it was Kiran Chaudhary who first initiated the case for his officer’s suspension and even got the Chief Minister, who had initially refused to sign Chaturvedi’s suspension orders and had sent the file back for his explanation, suddenly recalled it and quietly signed his suspension orders. With Kiran Chaudhary and Hooda leading the way, the Government and non-government machinery in Haryana were just following orders from the top. As the battle lines got drawn, many other forest service officials, staff in the CM office and even Haryana cadre officers on deputation to central agencies joined in the fight to make sure he lost the unequal battle. Especially shocking here was Hooda’s comment that “he (Chaturvedi) has even managed to secure quashing of chargesheet against him by conniving with some officer in the Government of India which was against established departmental norms and procedures. Can a relatively junior officer with less than five years service influence the President of India to quash a chargesheet against him?”
That the State is playing a one-sided game is clear from the fact that Chaturvedi has rung the bell in almost every temple of justice from the President, to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Cabinet Secretariat, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the DoPT, CAT, CVC and CBI, but apart from pretences for the sake of formality, no one has picked up cudgels on his behalf. This is even as the State Government spent close to Rs 1.5 crore of public money to hire lawyers and keep the case ‘closed’
Here, the alleged role played by Prabhat Kumar, Director, CVC, merits attention. In an effort to stall CBI investigation, he first said (on July 13, 2011): “I am of the opinion that the CBI enquiry may not be needed at all as the matter has already been considered by the CEC and the elements of corruption is not prominent there.”. But within 20 days, he had changed his stand and playing with words he wrote to the CBI on August 8, 2011, that “the commission has desired to seek the opinion of CBI.” The DIG CBI, Chandigarh on November 1 categorically replied, “the issue… was analysed by the CBI and found to be worthy of an independent probe… this issues with the approval of the Director CBI.” 
The Big Fight: Where They Stand
CBI inquiry in the forestry scam cases in Haryana.
1. In a letter to the Central Vigilance Commission, the Ministry of Environment & Forests accepts violations of laws in case of :
- Digging of illegal canal inside Saraswati wildlife sanctuary.
- Illegal spending of public funds to develop a herbal park on private land in Fatehabad -  Misappropriation of funds for plantations projects in Jhajhar.
2. “It has been decided, with the approval of the competent authority, to assign the investigation into the allegations by Sanjiv Chaturvedi to the CBI”–Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan wrote to the Hooda Government.
3. “We have found that the documentary evidence submitted by Sh. Sanjiv Chaturvedi is robust and needs to be investigated further”– Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister for Environment & Forests.
4. CBI, Chandigarh replied, “the issue… was analysed by the CBI and found to be worthy of an independent probe….”
The contention of MoEF that the enquiry was just an in-house enquiry also does not hold good. The inquiry has been done in interaction with the officers of the forest department of the State Government by taking their written comments on record.
Further observations/recommendations have been made in the enquiry report regarding the role of certain functionaries in the State Government. Hence, it cannot be termed as an informal enquiry Therefore, institution of an inquiry by the MoEF was ultra-virus of their powers and hence devoid of any force of law.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Central Government/MoEF was not competent to order an inquiry in the matter, as on date the DOPT does not see any role of this department or the Prime Minister’s Office on the recommendations of the enquiry ordered by MoEF.
However, if at any state the Haryana State MoEF comes up with a specific proposal of action by the DOPT, such action will be taken by this department on
the merit of the rules in vogue.
"Since the charges of harassment are proved, the
Central Government should direct the State Government to render the services of the officer to the Central Government immediately ... so that further harassment of the officer due to the vested interests of the State could be (avoided)...." A central committee, which had probed the entire episode, including harassment of the officer and irregularities in the forest department, had recommended his deputation to the Centre citing the advice of the Central Vigilance Commission and saying that even the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had asked for the same.
Initially, the State Government did not send his deputation file to the Centre arguing that the last date for submission had expired. Chaturvedi countered this by stating that since he had also submitted his application online to the Centre.
It may be noted that online submission is valid for one
year. It was only after this that the State Government reluctantly forwarded his application.
Note: Gfiles sent this story to Director, Public Relations, Haryana for clarifications on the allegations by Sanjiv Chaturvedi but till the time of going to press, no reply was received.
Likewise Promilla Issar, the 1972 batch IAS officer, who as Chief Secretary of Haryana was party to Chaturvedi’s suspension, and is now member of the Chandigarh bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), is understood to have entertained a petition to quash the orders of the President of India revoking the chargesheet. This is even though AIS Rule 15(1) states: Notwithstanding anything contained in this part, no appeal shall lie against any order made by the President.
This brings us to the issue about what should be the role of a subordinate ministry or office, if and when the Prime Minister’s Office asks it to give its fair opinion? Can the said department fudge facts and give a biased view? Does it not amount to deliberately misleading a superior authority? This becomes relevant in the context of Director, PMO, Dr Sharmila Joseph’s letter no 600/31/c/26/2011-ES-2 dated November 24, 2011, seeking the opinion of DoPT. To this Kabindra Joshi, Under-Secretary, DoPT, replied:
PMO:Whether the Central government is competent to institute an enquiry into charges levelled by an All India Service Officer under a State Government?
DoPT:Under All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969, the State Government is the appropriate disciplinary authority to place under suspension or institute a departmental proceeding against a member of service working in connection with the affairs of the State Government. The role of the Central Government is restricted to hearing an appeal under Rule 16 and considering a memorandum submitted under Rule 25 of the said rules.
However, Rule 3(1)(b) (ii) provided that, in cases, where there is a difference of opinion between a State Government and the Central Government, the opinion of the Central Government shall prevail. Similarly, Rule 11 clearly states that in case of any difference of opinion, the matter may be referred to Central Government for its decision.
Again Rule 3(6) (A) says:Where an order of suspension is made, or deemed to have been made, by the Government of a State under this rule, detailed report of the case shall be forwarded to the Central Government ordinarily within a period of 15 days of the date on which the member of the Service is suspended or is deemed to have been suspended, as the case may be.
Factual Position: According to an amendment in this Act on September 30, 2009, it is not only mandatory to inform the Central Government within 15 days of the suspension but the suspension order also has to be confirmed by the Central Government within 45 days. These conditions were not met in the present case and the officer was made to live with the stigma of suspension for more than three years. The file was reportedly stuck in the office of the PCCF for close to 18 months. Finally, when Keshani Anand Arora took over as Principal Secretary (Forests) an enquiry was set up. This was three years after the chargesheet when the officer was due for promotion. 
DoPT:The Central Government is not competent to order an enquiry into a representation received from the member of service working in connection with affairs of the State Government.
However, Rule 7 (3) which talks about the Authority to institute proceedings and to impose penalty says: Provided further that where the Governments concerned are the Central Government and the State Government or two State Governments and there is a difference of opinion between the said Governments in respect of any matter referred to in this rule, the matter shall be referred to the Central Government for its decisions, which shall be passed in consultation with the Commission
DoPT:As regards frequent transfers of the officer and violation of cadre rules, the role of the Central Government is restricted to formation of cadre rules only....In these matters, the Central Government does not have a direct role except in policy formation
Again Rule 10-A. All India Services (Confidential Rolls) Rules, 1970, says: the Central Government may issue such instructions, not inconsistent with the provisions of these rules, or as it may consider necessary, with regard to the writing of the confidential reports, the maintenance of the Confidential Rolls and the effect of the confidential reports on the conditions of service of a member of the service. Significantly, the AIS Rule 31 on Removal of doubts goes on to add that where a doubt arises as to the interpretation of any of the provisions of these rules, the matter shall be referred to the Central Government for its decision.
Why did the DoPT take part in the whitewash operation is not known but it’s fairly clear that someone somewhere is abusing or misusing his powers. Some of the other pertinent questions that this case raises are: What are the powers of the Centre and States in respect of Central Service cadre officers? Fudging of facts and manipulation of records is an established practice to stonewall the ends of justice. But what should we say when the DoPT takes the PMO for a ride? What do you say when the authority of the Presidential power is challenged? g 


Comments :-
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
I rlealy wish there were more articles like this on the web.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Haryana is a state that essentially welcomes corruption. Congress Govt in Haryana is involved in the ROHTAK APNA GHAR CHILD ABUSE CASE CM Hooda belongs to Rohtak. Rohtak is unofficial capital of Haryana. Land scams in Faridabad is currently undergoing with blessing of DTP Haryana & Police & DC Office. Agricultural land is being sold for residential use - without any public utility creation by builders in connivance with politicians & officials.This is going on at "neharpar" and a free hand has been given by Govt to build unauthorised colonies on agricultural use land, without road/ sewer /water etc Setting up any college under PPP model in Haryana requires 5-10 Crores donation to politicians. The engineers/ doctors from these colleges are completely un-trained because all the money for college infrastructure had to be paid to set up the college Electricity department in Haryana is worst off. After recent arrest of few DHBVN officials for corruption in 2011, MD DHBVN , Mohd. Shayin was transferred out on pretext of unifying MD post of DHBVN & UHBVN, however, real reason was that he took strict action against corrupt officers close to Power Minister & CM Medical facilities at Govt Hospitals & Dispensaries is a joke ! Just try and complaint to any higher authority about vanishing medical supplies of Govt Hospitals, and you might get killed !!! All medicines that the hospital should legally have are not there as they are only purchased on paper, and whatever little is available is way beyond expiry date Sales Tax department is no better. One has to grease almost everybodys palms to get legal work done. If you want to set up an industry in Haryana, set aside 30 % money (capital investment) as bribe money. Almost 10 % of turnover is for State Govt bribe !!!
Daniel O'Connor
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Ramesh Tailang is right to note that such cases must be brought out "before the People". Thanks to gfilesindia and the worldwideweb, they are brought out before a global audience. When I taught in India, 40+ years ago, the public services had a decent reputation. How fortunate India is to still have public servants like Sanjiv Chaturvedi, but this gfile suggests that they are in a small minority.
Ramesh Tailang
Friday, June 08, 2012
This is indeed a shocking story and should not be seen in isolation more especially when whole battalion of certain powerful politicians/ beaurocracy has united to teach a lesson to an officer who has dared to uncover the deeds of corruption at the cost of his own life and career. No doubt the Media is not supposed to draw its own inferences or pass out its own judgement over such sensitive matters but it is duty bound to bring out such cases before the People. Besides, i personally feel that there are and must be a good number of honest persons in each establishment and they should come out openly to extend support in this one-man army war against corruption.

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