Shimla: A judge has recused himself from hearing a defamation suit filed against whistle-blower IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi, citing personal reasons.
The case was filed by senior IAS officer and Himachal Pradesh Chief secretary Vineet Chawdhry for disclosing his ‘vigilance profile’ containing allegations of impropriety by him.
This court does not want to adjudicate the present matter for some personal reasons, which are being sent to the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Shimla…, Sidharth Sarpal, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, said in his order dated April 27, a copy of which was made available recently.
The next date of hearing in the matter has been fixed as 15 June.
Chawdhry, a 1982 batch IAS officer of Himachal Pradesh cadre, had in 2016 filed a complaint with a local court seeking defamation proceedings against Chaturvedi. He alleged that Chaturvedi was maligning his image.
Chawdhry cited a letter written in 2014 by the whistle-blower to then chief secretary of Himachal Pradesh mentioning the former’s vigilance profile giving details of certain cases of alleged irregularities investigated by the CBI at that time.
Chawdhry, who worked with the Union Health Ministry between 1997 and 2001 as director and as joint secretary from May 2005 to September 2010, has denied all the allegations mentioned in the letter.
The complainant was also posted as deputy director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) from September 2010 to November 2012.
Chaturvedi had written the confidential letter in his capacity as Chief Vigilance Officer (who acts as a distant arm of the Central Vigilance Commission to check corruption) of the AIIMS.
During his posting as the AIIMS CVO between July 2012 to August 2014, the IFS officer exposed various corruption cases in the premier health institute.
In his letter, Chaturvedi had mentioned the approval of departmental proceedings against Chawdhry in various cases of “financial irregularity and abuse of official position”.
He had specifically mentioned a preliminary inquiry registered by the CBI against Chawdhry in January 2014.
In its finding submitted in December 2014 to the health ministry, the CBI had said, An enquiry has revealed that existing rules and regulations were violated in the matter of extension in service of BS Anand, then superintending engineer, AIIMS, Ansari Nagar, Delhi by Vineet Chawdhry, the then deputy director (Administration), AIIMS”. The agency had recommended regular departmental action in the case.
Chawdhry claimed that the accused (Chaturvedi) had been nurturing a grudge against him for reasons best known to him.
“The accused has obvious mala fide design to harm or cause injury to the reputation of the complainant,” Chawdhry had said in his complaint to the court.
In a related development, the Delhi High Court had last month issued a notice to the Centre, CVC and AIIMS on a plea against the government’s decision to drop departmental proceedings against Chowdhry during his posting at the health institute.
The proceedings were initiated in relation to an alleged multi-crore scam that Chaturvedi claimed to have exposed.
Chaturvedi, an Indian Forest Service officer of the Haryana cadre, had been removed from the post of Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of AIIMS in 2014. This was done although his appointment order had been for a fixed tenure of four years, ending in June 2016.
In August that year, the then Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan, had said that Indian Forest Service officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi was not eligible for the post of Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), a post the latter was eyeing.
“Sanjiv Chaturvedi was not eligible to work at the post as he was working here earlier. And nobody can work on that post without the approval of Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). This thing was brought to us and we saw that as a person is not eligible for the post and has not been approved by the CVC, so he cannot work on that post, it’s a routine thing, don’t make this such a big issue,” Harsh Vardhan said.