New Delhi — Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister, today reiterated that there was nothing mala fide in the government’s decision to re-profile the job role of Indian Forest Service officer Sanjeev Chaturvedi.
Reacting to reports in a section of the media today that alluded to extraneous considerations behind the duties of chief vigilance officer of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences being assigned to a joint secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “Selective representation often leads to obfuscation of facts as has happened in this case.”
He pointed out that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had brought to the previous government’s notice on 20 July 2012 that Chaturvedi’s appointment as CVO in AIIMS was without its approval, which is required to be obtained before such appointments are made as per the vigilance manual.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “For reasons unclear, the then government had not only ignored this letter but also two subsequent reminders dated 3 September 2012 and 13 February 2013.”
In the first letter (OV-CVO-87/186413 dated 3 September 2012), it was pointed out that Chaturvedi had been appointed as CVO in AIIMS without the approval of the commission, which is required to be obtained before such appointment as laid down in the vigilance manual. This letter also reiterated the commission’s old position that a full-time CVO was necessary in the AIIMS, and asked for a panel of officers of senior level to be forwarded to it by the ministry for approval for appointment as CVO in AIIMS.
The ministry had responded to this letter on 24 December 2012, restating the standard position of the UPA Government that a full-time CVO was unnecessary. But it did suggest a panel comprising 4 individuals: deputy director (administration) of AIIMS, the joint secretary and CVO of the Health Ministry, one of the regular directors/deputy secretaries in the ministry, and Chaturvedi.
In the second letter (OV-CVO-87/20368 dated 13 February 2013), the CVC rejected this panel stating that the ministry had once again disregarded the vigilance manual whose clause 2.6.1 explicitly asked for the names and vigilance profiles of the 3 others recommended.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “The previous government’s attitude of undermining laid down rules smacks of the same hostility to the institution of the CVC as manifested by its controversial move to appoint a tainted bureaucrat as CVC chief in 2011. Thankfully, the Supreme Court had struck down that appointment.”
The media reports have also suggested that JP Nadda, a BJP Rajya Sabha member, had wanted Chaturvedi out alleging some misdemeanours and that the decision to re-profile him was a result of that.
Dr Harsh Vardhan brushed aside the suggestion saying, “Mr Chaturvedi has neither been transferred, nor asked to go on leave. The allegations against him made by Mr Nadda or anybody else had nothing to do with his job role re-profiling. Mr Chaturvedi continues to be the deputy secretary at AIIMS.”
The news reports, the minister pointed out, were based on a file on Chaturvedi being put in the public domain through a Right to Information (RTI) application. The RTI request was processed and delivered within a few weeks. Its selective representation is indication of a tendency to misuse RTI for vested interests, the health minister said.
Dr Harsh Vardhan added, “A fact of significance that escaped media attention is that even the previous government had considered for some time to do away with the duplication of CVO function at the Ministry and AIIMS levels. The former Secretary in the Ministry had stated on record that Mr Chaturvedi was absorbed for the Department of AYUSH in the Ministry of Health as there was a need for an IFS officer there.”
He regretted the attempt to inject a “new work culture” in government by media wherein officers consider certain position their right.
“I hope I am absolutely clear that government officers cannot claim certain positions as a matter of right and rush to the media with false allegations when redeployed, even before their terms expire. The right of the ministry to assign roles is immutable,” Dr Harsh Vardhan added.