Sanjiv Chaturvedi

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Sanjiv Chaturvedi
Born (1974-12-21) 21 December 1974 (age 46)
NationalityIndia
EducationB. Tech
Alma materMotilal Nehru National Institute of Technology[1]
OccupationBureaucrat (Indian Forest Service)
Years active2002–present
EmployerGovernment of India
OrganizationIndian Forest Service
Known for
  • Exposing corruption in the Haryana government and AIIMS
  • Director, Corbett Tiger Reserve
  • Conservation Research projects in Uttarakhand
AwardsRamon Magsaysay Award (2015)
S. R. Jindal Prize (2011)

Sanjiv Chaturvedi (born 21 December 1974) is an Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer posted as Chief Conservator of Forest (Research) at Haldwani in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. Chaturvedi was a Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) at AIIMS, New Delhi from 2012 to 2014, and served in the government of Haryana from 2005 to 2012.[2][3]

Chaturvedi was a whistleblower in the Haryana Forestry case, which occurred under the regime of Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Kiran Chaudhary. He was a whistleblower later in larger scams in the health sector during his tenure as chief vigilance officer of AIIMS. Chaturvedi made a number of decisions during his management of the Corbett Tiger Reserve, and undertook conservation and research projects in the state of Uttarakhand.

Indian Forest Service in Haryana and forestry case[edit]

Chaturvedi graduated in 1995 as an electrical engineer from the Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology (NIT Prayagraj). In 2002, he became an Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer in Haryana. Chaturvedi served there from August 2005 to June 2012 in Kurukshetra, Fatehabad, Jhajjar and Hisar, where he publicised corruption in mining, licensing, an herbal park, a fake plantation and instances of illicit felling and poaching in protected areas. Collectively known as the Haryana Forestry case, it involved Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, forest minister Kiran Chaudhary and several other senior politicians and officers.[4][5]

Kurukshetra[edit]

Chaturvedi's first posting was in Kurukshetra, where he registered a first information report against contractors for large-scale, illicit tree felling and poaching of hog deer in the nearby Saraswati Wildlife Sanctuary. He was reprimanded by the Principal Secretary (Forests) and transferred to Fatehabad on 30 May 2007.[4][6] The contractors were linked with the Hansi-Butana canal project and were associates of the chief minister. In his report, Chaturvedi noted serious violations of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 and a number of Supreme Court orders in undertaking construction work inside a wildlife sanctuary without statutory approvals. Although Chaturvedi’s actions angered the government, an NGO later filed a case before the Supreme Court's Central Empowered Committee; the committee upheld all charges and fined the government of Haryana 10 million.[7][8][9][10]

Fatehabad[edit]

In Fatehabad, Chaturvedi found that large amounts of public money were spent on private land to develop an herbal park. The land belonged to local Congress member Prahlad Singh Gillakhera, who became Chief Parliamentary Secretary of Forest after winning the MLA election. Gilakhera was reportedly close to Haryana Forest Minister Kiran Chawdhry. A July 2007 letter from the Haryana Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to Chaturvedi said that the Forest Minister was "annoyed" because work on the herbal park had been stopped.[7][8][9][10]

On 3 August 2007, Haryana Chief Minister Hooda, suspended Chaturvedi without specifying a reason. On 14 September of that year, the government issued a charge sheet to dismiss him from service. The suspension order was revoked on 3 January 2008 by President Pratibha Patil, who also censured the Hooda government. The Hooda government did not withdraw the charge sheet against Chaturvedi, however, and forest minister Kiran Choudhry returned the file for further comments.[6] The Hooda government blocked Chaturvedi's promotion by keeping the charge sheet pending for over three years,[11] and later had to compensate him and concede in writing that he had been framed.[6]

Soon after Chaturvedi's suspension, corruption in the herbal park was brought to the Supreme Court by the NGO Ekta Parishad. The Haryana government was required to transfer management of the land to the Haryana Forest Department under section 38 of the Indian Forest Act of 1927.[7][8][9][10]

Jhajjar[edit]

When his suspension was lifted by the president in January 2008, Chaturvedi was assigned to a non-cadre post. After objections from the Central Administrative Tribunal, he was posted as a divisional forest officer (DFO) in Jhajjar in January 2009 and exposed a fake-plantation scheme the following month in which a large sum of public money had been embezzled; as a result, 40 forest staffers were charged and 10 were suspended. Chaturvedi suspected that senior officers were involved, and requested an investigation.[6]

Subsequently, Chaturvedi started facing harassment in form of bogus cases. In 2012, the Hooda government charged Chaturvedi with neglecting plantation maintenance. The charge was dismissed by the president of India in October 2013, who called it "unsustainable".[12][13] After a central-government inquiry, the OSD of the Haryana Chief Minister was found to be involved in the charge.[14]

Hisar[edit]

The Haryana Chief Minister's Office transferred Chaturvedi to the Hisar division in August 2009, and Chaturvedi exposed another fake-plantation scheme. In January 2010, he sealed a plywood unit for colluding with senior forest officers to pay ₹26,000 instead of ₹2,200,000 as a license fee. In May 2010, when Chaturvedi went abroad for 18 days of official training, the Chief Minister's Office declared his post vacant.[6] After a month without a job, Chaturvedi was appointed a DFO (Production) in the division.[15]

Harassment and presidential intervention[edit]

Chaturvedi reported harassment after exposing corruption. Several false criminal cases were filed against him, including theft of a Kachnar tree[10] and abetting a suicide.[15] During his tenure as an officer in Haryana, Chaturvedi was transferred 12 times in five years.[4][16]

Alleging harassment by the Haryana state government, Chaturvedi complained to President Pratibha Patil in 2010; Patil referred his case to the Cabinet Secretariat, who directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests to convene a two-member panel to study the accusations. The inquiry found merit in Chaturvedi's allegations that year and referred the case to the CBI, whose preliminary analysis found his allegations worthy of investigation. The ministry then referred the case to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and recommended a CBI investigation.[17]

The president's order censured the Haryana state government for harassing Chaturvedi by blocking his promotion and transferring him.[11] This was based on the panel report, which reprimanded minister Kiran Choudhry; the Chief Minister's Officer on Special Duty, R. R. Beri, and Chief Parliamentary Secretary Prahalad Singh Gillakhera,.[5] The Hooda government rejected the ministry's findings and asked it to reexamine the case, a request which was denied.[17]

In March 2013, the Hooda government accused Chaturvedi of inefficiency and recommended his dismissal. In October 2013, the President Pranab Mukherjee dismissed the charge in October of that year, censuring the government of Haryana.[12] The Hooda government then attempted to downgrade Chaturvedi's appraisal report, which was reversed by the president.[18] Between 2008 and 2014, the president issued four orders supporting Chaturvedi and reversing the Hooda government.[19]

Haryana obstruction[edit]

In May 2012, Chaturvedi was selected by the central government as a deputy secretary at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi (AIIMS) under the Union Health Ministry. Haryana's Hooda government refused to release him, however, despite repeated requests from the central government's health ministry and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The latter released Chaturvedi on 29 June 2012, despite the Hooda government's objection.[20][21]

Supreme Court case[edit]

Based on the CVC and CBI reports, the central government asked the Haryana government to issue a notification of the CBI investigation in March 2012; the state government refused to issue the notification.[22] Chaturvedi petitioned the Supreme Court for a CBI investigation, and notices were issued to the central government, the CBI and the Haryana government in November 2012. In an October 2014 Supreme Court affidavit, the CBI expressed its willingness to investigate.[23] In April of that year, the Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda petitioned the central government in the Punjab and Haryana High Court to rescind its orders.[24] In April 2017, the investigation had not begun.[25]

The high court fined Chaturvedi 50,000 in February 2018 (saying that he had not filed a reply to the petition), but it was set aside by a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Deepak Misra on 19 February.[26] The central government stated in an affidavit to the high court that month that when All India Services officers work in state governments, their discipline remains with the central government.[27] The high court dismissed Haryana's challenge to the central-government inquiry panel in August 2019 because, according to Article 131 of the Constitution of India, a dispute between the central government and a state must be heard by the Supreme Court; the Haryana case was similar to Chaturvedi's 2012 Supreme Court case.[28][29][30]

In June 2018, an official in the secretariat of Haryana's Forest Branch filed a police complaint against the chief minister because documents related to Chaturvedi's case were removed and returned by the chief minister's office. The Haryana government transferred the secretariat official who had filed the complaint.[31][32] Chaturvedi threatened to petition the high court if no action was taken against those responsible for the disappearance of the documents.[33] It was later reported that despite the Haryana advocate general's opinion that Chaturvedi's high-court case should be withdrawn, the state maintained it for over two years.[34]

Sanjeev Tomar case[edit]

Sanjeev Tomar, a Haryana forest-range officer, was found dead in December 2009 after the initiation of anti-corruption proceedings against him by Sanjiv Chaturvedi. His father, Rampal Singh Tomar, initially told police that his son had died of natural causes. He later changed his statement, saying that Sanjeev had committed suicide because of harassment by Chaturvedi and a subsequent suspension.[35] According to the Jhajjar superintendent of police, Chaturvedi had nothing to do with Tomar's suicide; he was disturbed by corruption and dowry cases against him.[36] A number of special investigation teams (SIT) cleared Chaturvedi. According to the SIT reports, Tomar committed suicide because of an anti-corruption inquiry and litigation by his wife; he had been living with another woman.[37]

In February 2015, the Punjab and Haryana High Court recommended a new SIT to probe allegations that Tomar committed suicide due to harassment by Chaturvedi; this was based on a petition filed by Rampal Singh Tomar. Chaturvedi challenged the order to form an SIT.[38] His counsel argued that the case had already been investigated by four SITs and reviewed by senior police officers, who found no evidence of harassment. He stated that forming a new SIT would hound an officer who had exposed several scams. The court accepted the petition in April 2015, recalled its order, and dismissed Rampal Singh Tomar's petition.[35]

Intelligence Bureau report[edit]

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) prepared a report about alleged threats and harassment to Chaturvedi. When he sought a copy of the report under the RTI Act, the bureau denied it on the grounds that it was an exempt organization under section 24 of the act.[39] The CIC decision was challenged by the Intelligence Bureau in June 2016 in the Delhi High Court, which had granted a stay and issued notices to Chaturvedi. The hearing was concluded in May 2017, and the judgment was issued in August 2017. The Delhi High Court upheld the CIC orders and dismissed the Intelligence Bureau's petition, paving way for Chaturvedi to access the IB report. The court ruled that under the RTI Act, corruption and human-rights violation are not exempt from disclosure.[40][41]

AIIMS Delhi[edit]

On 29 June 2012, Chaturvedi was made deputy secretary and chief vigilance officer of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. As a CVO, Chaturvedi's cases included counterfeit drugs; financial irregularities in construction projects; corruption in recruitment purchase of medical equipment, doctors making unauthorized foreign trips, contracts with security companies, single-bid tendering, computerization purchases, pension-fund corruption and sexual harassment.[42][43][44][45][46] During his tenure, police seized banned drugs worth 60 million from a vehicle delivering to an on-campus pharmacy owned by an Indian National Congress MLA. Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad signed two internal reports which called Chaturvedi's CVO work "outstanding".[16] Chaturvedi began about 200 corruption cases as AIIMS CVO; sanctions were imposed in 78 cases, charges were brought in 87, and over 20 were referred to the CBI for criminal investigation. They included cases against senior IAS officer Vineet Chawdhry of the Himachal Pradesh cadre (a previous deputy), Director (Administration) and former Deputy Director (Administration) Shailesh Yadav, a senior IPS officer, senior faculty members, former Registrar V. P. Gupta and former Chief Administrative Officer Attar Singh.[47][16][44]

As a result of Chaturvedi's investigations, the CBI registered cases and recommended action against Vineet Chawdhry. According to a June 2017 India Today investigative report, Union Health Minister J. P. Nadda was found to have suppressed an investigation of what the report called a 7,000-crore scam. The India Today reports included reports from the CBI and a parliamentary committee.[48] Opposition parties accused Nadda of links to senior IAS officer Vineet Chawdhry, with whom he had worked in Himachal Pradesh.[49]

The CBI found in October 2015 that AIIMS director M. C. Mishra and other school officials were involved in corruption in the purchase of medical items, and recommended action against them to the health ministry.[50][51] The bureau presented a January 2018 forgery case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against AIIMS officials as a result of Chaturvedi's May 2014 report.[52] In September 2013, the CBI laid a criminal case concerning fraudulent payments and financial irregularities in allocating a security contract.[43] It was found later that Chaturvedi's corruption cases involving senior IAS and IPS officers and the AIIMS' director and senior officials were hushed up after his removal by Nadda's health ministry.[53][54]

In August 2014, Chaturvedi was relieved as CVO.[55] He wrote in a 16 August letter to incoming health minister Harsh Vardhan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that his removal was the result of a campaign by corrupt officials. Chaturvedi was supported by AIIMS staff (who wrote to the prime minister requesting his reinstatement) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), who staged demonstrations. The media and the AAP alleged that the BJP's Nadda removed Chaturvedi on behalf of Vineet Chaudhary, an IAS officer from Himachal Pradesh. Chaturvedi had accused Chaudhary of bending rules to extend tenure to an engineer supervising works worth 3,700 crore. Nadda had reportedly proposed removing Chaturvedi in a letter which received 20 signatures within 24 hours.[56] Chaturvedi had accused two security-contractor firms of serious violations, one of which was owned by the BJP's Rajya Sabha MP R. K. Sinha.[16][57]

Health and family welfare minister Harsh Vardhan said that Chaturvedi was removed because he was ineligible for the CVO post, and the government decision had no male fides.[58][59] However, the media reported that Nadda had written several letters advocating Chaturvedi's removal and demanded a halt to his corruption cases; a meeting between Nadda and Vardhan for that purpose was documented. Nadda reportedly wrote four letters between May 2013 and June 2014 requesting Chaturvedi's removal, which occurred after a change of government.[60][61][62]

Media reports exposed records related to earlier attempts to remove Chaturvedi, despite a May 2014 report from the Union Health Secretary and the Health Ministry CVO that his performance was "exemplary" and his integrity "absolute". After intervention by a parliamentary committee, the prime minister's office directed the cabinet secretary to monitor and report further efforts to remove him.[46][44][54]

After Chaturvedi's removal, prime minister Narendra Modi asked Vardhan for a report. Health secretary Lov Verma said that AIIMS did not have an independent CVO, and Chaturvedi had been given additional responsibilities as an "internal arrangement." DNA reported that facts about Chaturvedi's appointment and removal were omitted from Verma's report, and he was made CVO by an AIIMS order.[56]

After Nadda became health minister in November 2014, his ministry attempted to revise Chaturvedi's appraisal report until Nadda was stopped the following June by the Central Administrative Tribunal[63] following a petition by Chaturvedi to promote him to director (selection grade) as scheduled; he was promoted retroactively, from 1 January.[2] In August 2015, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare accused the health ministry of ignoring AIIMS corruption and criticized the replacement of a dedicated CVO post with a ministry CVO.[64] That month, Chaturvedi said that he was disappointed with the Modi government for not acting on the corruption cases.[65]

By December 2015, Chaturvedi was still employed at AIIMS but his assigned tasks had been removed by the central government without explanation.[66] The following July, Chaturvedi filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court that the ministry had taken no action on his AIIMS corruption cases.[67] After being stripped of his duties during the 2015–2016 fiscal year (a move that challenged in the Supreme Court), Chaturvedi received an "unsatisfactory" performance evaluation.[68]

AIIMS support[edit]

After Chaturvedi was removed, AIIMS faculty members circulated a petition to bring him back; about 250 faculty members and researchers wrote to Prime Minister Modi to reinstate him as CVO and conduct an inquiry into his removal.[69][70] Chaturvedi also received support from the AIIMS student union and employees.[71][72]

Public interest litigation[edit]

In February 2015, the Delhi High Court issued notices to the central government and Union Health Minister J. P. Nadda in response to public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Prashant Bhushan demanding a CBI investigation of pending corruption cases and Chaturvedi's removal as CVO.[73] The court had sought a status report from the CBI on corruption exposed by Chaturvedi.[74] In April 2018, the court issued notices to the central government seeking their reply on the improper closure of corruption cases by the health ministry (headed by Nadda) during the PIL.[75]

Conflict with central vigilance commissioner[edit]

Chaturvedi wrote to the president in July 2017 requesting a suspension and Supreme Court inquiry of Central Vigilance Commissioner K. V. Chaudhary under Section 6 of the CVC Act, 2003, citing CBI reports recommending action against AIIMS officials and faculty members on corruption charges which were summarily closed by Chaudhary. Chaturvedi further alleged that the CVC did not exercise his disciplinary authority in closing the cases.[76][77][78] In response to Chaturvedi's RTI application about action taken on his complaint to the president about the CVC, the central government's Department of Personnel and Training (DoP&T) said that there were no guidelines to deal with such complaints.[79][80]

In January 2019, the central government said that guidelines to handle such complaints were being framed and complaint will be processed only after guidelines are framed. This was criticised by the opposition Congress Party, which charged the central government with hiding behind technicalities to justify its inaction against Chauhdary.[81][82]

Zero appraisal[edit]

Chaturvedi received a zero grading in his annual performance report (APAR) for the 2015-16 fiscal year (the year he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award) from Nadda and his subordinates. His previous appraisals had been outstanding, and in 2014 the health secretary rated his performance as exemplary.[83] The central government had deprived him of work after his petition was accepted by the Supreme Court in September 2016.[83] A March 2017 Intelligence Bureau report called Chaturvedi a "diligent officer".[84] Within four months of Chaturvedi's zero rating, Uttarakhand's BJP government rated him outstanding for the 2016-17 fiscal year.[85] When Chaturvedi appealed his zero rating to the Uttarakhand High Court in June 2017, the court (led by Chief Justice K. M. Joseph) sent the case to a tribunal.[86] The court's order was criticized by the legal fraternity, since it had previously heard service-related cases.[87][88] The Nainital Central Administrative Tribunal rejected the Cabinet Secretary's request to remove his name from the case related to Chaturvedi's zero appraisal.[89]

The Uttarakhand High Court called the central government's attitude towards Chaturvedi "vindictive" in August 2018, and imposed 25,000 in court costs.[90][91] In February 2019, the Supreme Court of India upheld the Uttarakhand High Court's judgment and fined AIIMS 25,000.[92][93]

Judgements and PMNRF donation[edit]

In June 2019, the High Court of Uttarakhand issued contempt notices for non-payment of judgements to the Union Health Secretary and AIIMS director.[94][95] The central government paid Chaturvedi the following month,[96][97][98] and in August he donated it to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF). In his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chaturvedi expressed surprise that public funds could be used for vindictive litigation and asked Modi to create a fund for other honest officers facing harassment and retaliation.[99][100][101]

Judicial recusals[edit]

Since April 2019, four judges have recused themselves from Chaturvedi's cases. Supreme Court justices Ranjan Gogoi and U. U. Lalit recused themselves from the Haryana Forestry case, and a Shimla Court judge recused himself in April 2018 from a criminal defamation case filed against Chaturvedi by Himachal Pradesh Chief Secretary Vineet Chawdhary. Central Administrative Tribunal chair L. Narasimha Reddy recused himself from all of Chaturvedi's cases in a 29 March 2019 order, citing "unfortunate developments" and calling them "a rare case". Reddy had been cited for contempt by the High Court of Uttarakhand for disobeying their order on a petition filed by Chaturvedi, but his contempt proceeding was stayed by the Supreme Court in March 2019.[102][103][104][105][106][107]

In January 2021, Chairman of Central Administrative Tribunal(CAT),Justice L. Narsimha Reddy recused himself from the case filed by Sanjiv Chaturvedi, against the Central Government challenging lateral entry and 360 degree appraisal system introduced for officers at the level of Joint Secretary and above. [108][109]. In February 2021, in the same case, another judge of CAT, Delhi, Justice RN Singh recused himself on the ground that he had earlier appeared as a counsel representing Central Vigilance Commission(CVC) in a case filed by Chaturvedi.[110] [111].

Prime Minister's Office involvement[edit]

The Wire cited RTI documents that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had discussed Chaturvedi's removal with Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on 23 August 2014. That day, Union Health Secretary Luv Verma wrote to the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister that the Prime Minister had phoned the Union Health Minister and a report to the Prime Minister would follow.[112] Although the content of the conversation was unclear, Chaturvedi was then stripped of his responsibilities, received a zero appraisal and faced several lawsuits. After the phone call, the prime minister's office unsuccessfully sought comments or a report from the health ministry about Chaturvedi's allegations. In 2013, the prime minister's office had intervened to resolve his case concerning differences between the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).[113] In February 2019, Chaturvedi wrote to Prime Minister Modi asking him to disclose details of Modi's phone conversation with Harsh Vardhan.[114]

Campaign against black money[edit]

In August 2017, Chaturvedi submitted a 16-point RTI application to the prime minister's office for information on funds brought into India by the Modi government and deposited into citizen accounts. During the 2014 parliamentary elections, the BJP promised to deposit 15 lakhs of foreign money into the account of every citizen. Chaturvedi also sought information on corruption complaints against Modi government ministers, a copy of the inquiry report and action taken on the complaints by the prime minister. Although the prime minister's office initially refused to provide the information, the Central Information Commission (CIC) ordered the prime minister's office to do so within 15 days on 16 October 2018.[115][116][117] In its 12 November response, the prime minister's office said that providing details would be "cumbersome exercise" and "disproportionately divert the resources of the office" under Section 7 (9) of the RTI Act, 2005.[118][119] The office also refused to provide information about money brought in from abroad, saying that its disclosure would affect a black-money investigation and citing Sections 8(1)(h) and 24 of the RTI Act.[120][121] The denial by the PMO was questioned by Shiv Sena.[122] and Chaturvedi called the fight against corruption a second freedom struggle,[123] which has been studied in several publications.[124][125]

In November 2018, Chaturvedi filed a non-compliance complaint against the prime minister's office with the Central Information Commission under Section 18 of the RTI Act. The complaint was heard in April and June 2019; in an 18 June order, the CIC ruled that the prime minister's office was incorrect in its justification. However, it agreed with the PMO that disclosure of the information would impede an ongoing investigation.[126][127][128]

In July and September 2019, the Delhi High Court dismissed Chaturvedi's case.[129] A Supreme Court division bench, hearing a special leave petition filed by Chaturvedi against the Delhi High Court rulings, issued a notice to the PMO in January 2020.[130][131][132][133]

Defamation case[edit]

A defamation case was filed against Chaturvedi by Vineet Chawdhary in a Shimla court concerning Chaturvedi's August 2014 letter to the Himachal Pradesh Chief Secretary, which contained a list of pending departmental and CBI investigations of Chawdhary. Chawdhary was deputy director (administration) at AIIMS New Delhi from 2010 to 2012, and was the subject of a number of complaints about financial irregularities and abuse of power. After the lower court issued a summons, Chaturvedi approached the Shimla High Court to quash the proceedings on the grounds that providing information on pending cases was part of his duties as AIIMS CVO.

In an April 2018 order, the Shimla High Court refused to intervene; the judge hearing the case recused himself for personal reasons.[134] Chaturvedi challenged the defamation case in the Supreme Court, which overturned the Himachal Pradesh High Court ruling the following month and asked it to re-hear the case.[135][136]

Change to Uttarakhand cadre[edit]

In October 2012, Chaturvedi applied for a change of cadre from Haryana to Uttarakhand on the grounds of extreme hardship, including frequent transfers, a suspension and false cases. The state governments and the Ministry of Environment and Forests also recommended a cadre change in July 2014 to the Appointment Committee of Cabinet (ACC), headed by the prime minister. On 28 January 2015, the ACC ordered fresh NOCs from both state governments. The order was challenged by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which stayed and then quashed it in May 2015 and gave the ACC two months to approve the cadre change; on 13 August 2015, the cadre change was approved.[137]

Delhi Government invitation[edit]

In 2015, the Aam Aadmi Party planned to appoint Chaturvedi as chief of the Delhi anti-corruption bureau.[138] On 17 and 28 February 2015, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Cabinet Minister of Environment and Forests Prakash Javdekar asking for the deputation of Chaturvedi to Delhi as an officer on special duty. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) directed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to consent to Chaturvedi's deputation to the Delhi government.[139]

In October 2015, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare gave its consent. This was followed by the government of Uttarakhand, and a court directed the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) to make a decision by 1 May 2016.[140] The Uttarakhand government withdrew its consent in January 2016, restoring it shortly afterwards.[141] The court directed the ACC to make a timely decision. In July 2016, ACC rejected Chaturvedi's transfer because he had not completed the requisite cooling-off period between deputations. In a letter to the prime minister that month, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that a cooling-off period is not required for personal staff appointments[142] and requested the deputation for the public good.[143]

Uttarakhand forest conservator[edit]

After completing his four-year tenure at AIIMS New Delhi, Chaturvedi joined the Uttarakhand cadre on 29 August 2016 and was promoted to Conservator of Forest in November of that year.[144] The state government was confused about his posting, and after three months he was ordered to a post as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) of the government of Uttarakhand to supervise state cases in the National Green Tribunal (NGT).[145] The state government cancelled the Delhi posting within 24 hours at a press conference called by Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who said that Chaturvedi would receive a posting of his choice in Uttarakhand.[146] After Chaturvedi requested assignment to the anti-corruption wing, he was appointed Conservator of Forest (Research) on 12 May 2016.[147] The reversal was criticized by state political activists.[148]

Research projects[edit]

Chaturvedi initiated projects on the impact of climate change on rhododendron bloom, changes in the tree line, and carbon sequestration of broad-leaved species.[149] A research study to gather data on aspects of human-wildlife conflict, Uttarakhand's most significant problem, was also initiated.[150] The patenting of two medicinal species was begun.[151] Chaturvedi began a conservation program for fern species,[152] and a project for the conservation and propagation of species in the state's alpine meadows.[153] The state government planned to patent kasani after a Defence Research and Development Organization unit corroborated its medicinal properties with Chaturvedi's research wing.[154] Chaturvedi initiated projects researching 17 tree species which yield dye, tannin and gum.[155] Steps were taken to conserve rare and threatened Himalayan plant species by requiring that at least 10 percent of such species be planted annually statewide.[156]

A project was initiated to conserve wild mushrooms growing in the Devban region.[157] In November 2018, the Uttarakhand government approved Chaturvedi's proposal to conserve Himalayan flora.[158][159] Tulips were successfully grown in Haldwani.[160]

A conservation project for grass species in the state was initiated,[161] A Palmatum for conservation of various palm species was established in Haldwani.[162] and efforts were made to conserve historically-important tree species.[163][164] A project was begun to conserve 127 orchid species in the Gori Valley, and a rare species of macaque was reported in the state's Pitthoragarh region.[165][166] A study was conducted on the impact of climate change on the Himalayan pika.[167]

The Forest Department began a project to plant chinar trees, otherwise found in Kashmir, in Uttarakhand.[168][169] In October 2019, another project was initiated to conserve the state's wild fruits and spices.[170] Two months later, a project was begun in Nainital district to establish India's first moss garden and showcase moss species.[171] In March 2020, Jurassic Park was established in Haldwani for Jurassic vegetation, including gingko biloba, fern, cycads, mosses, conifers and horsetails.[172] A Buddha garden was established the following month in Haldwani, showcasing 13 tree species linked to Gautama Buddha (including the ashoka tree under which he was reportedly born, the peepal tree under which he attained enlightenment and the sal tree under which he died).[173][174] India's first Moss garden was finally inaugurated in November 2020. It is spread over an area of 10 ha and has more than thirty species of Moss and bryophytes.[175][176]

Chaturvedi released a report in May of that year on 1,145 plant species (endemic and threatened) conserved by Uttarakhand's research wing, including trees, medicinal herbs, orchids, bamboo, ferns, grasses, shrubs, cactus, palm, Alpine flowers, moss, algae and lichens.[177][178][179]

For the 2020 World Environment Day on 5 June, Chaturvedi inaugurated Uttarakhand's largest biodiversity park. The 18-acre (7.3 ha) park contains about 500 plant species, including trees, medicinal herbs, cactus, orchids, palm, bamboo and vines. Its approximately 45 different sections include Jurassic Park (showcasing Jurassic vegetation), a soil museum, a weather station, driftwood, pebble art and medicinal-plant extracts.[180][181][182][183] That month, India's first Lichen Park was opened in Munsyari, Pithoragarh district. The 2-acre (0.81 ha) park contains about 80 species of lichen.[184][185] In July 2020, a Ramayan garden was opened in Haldwani. The 1-acre (0.40 ha) garden contains forest types and plant species described in Valmiki's Ramayana.[186][187][188] Connecting nature and literature, poems about nature by Robert Frost, Sumitranandan Pant, Mirza Ghalib, Gulzar, Tagore and Ruskin Bond are displayed in the state's biodiversity conservation centers.[189][188]

In December 2020, India's first pollinator park was inaugurated in Haldwani. Spread over an area of 4 acres(1.62 ha), it has 40 different pollinator species.[190][191]

In January 2021, an arboretum consisting of around 200 species of trees and shrubs, representing biodiversity of Shiwali Hills, which is basically Outer Himalyas was inaugurated[192][193]. In February 2021, First Forest Healing Centre of India was inaugurated at Ranikhet. Inspired from Japanese system of forest bathing and ancient Indian traditions, it intends to promote activities of tree hugging, forest walking, forest meditation and sky gazing ,to augment healing process[194][195][196].

Champawat forest scam[edit]

In September 2017, Chaturvedi was ordered by the Uttarakhand government to investigate irregularities in the Champawat Forest Division. He discovered the illegal cutting of pine trees,[197] and a resin scam[198] in which money earmarked for resin collection was diverted. After Chaturvedi's investigation, the state government planned to charge divisional forest officer A. K. Gupta.[199] In February 2020, Gupta was suspended.[200]

Arbirator[edit]

In January 2018, the Chandigarh Housing Board appointed Chaturvedi arbitrator of a construction dispute. In March 2019, he donated his fee to a welfare fund for families of CRPF personnel killed in the Pulwama attack the previous month.[201]

Corbett Tiger Reserve director[edit]

Chaturvedi was director of the Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve in May and June 2019. During his tenure, he conducted a study indicating that tigers killed about 13 elephants monthly for a five-year period; nine tigers and five leopards were also killed.[202][203][204][205] An order was issued banning VIP treatment and safaris for executive and judiciary officials.[206][207][208][209] A crackdown was launched on fake websites using the reserve's name, and closure notices were issued to about fifteen websites for legal violations.[210][211][212][213] An order was passed to facilitate booking for ordinary tourists.[214][215] A new zone was proposed for tourists, including portions of the Ram Ganga river in the reserve.[216] A proposal was made for the use of tourism revenue from tiger reserve for local people (as ordered in guidelines issued by National Tiger Conservation Authority) and shared access for nearby hotels and resorts.[217][218] A fossil museum was proposed after the discovery of a two-million-year-old elephant fossil in the reserve.[219]

Issues with election commissioner[edit]

In December 2019, election commissioner Ashok Lavasa wrote an op-ed article in an English-language newspaper on the difficulty of being honest. In response to the article, Chaturvedi wrote a lengthy rebuttal citing Lavasa's handling of his deputation to the Delhi government.[220] Citing court orders passed against the handling of his case by Lavasa, Chaturvedi called his article a "complete travesty".[221] In a February 2020 story, the Huffington Post cited Lavasa's handling of Chaturvedi's case in attempts by the central government to prevent his transfer to the Delhi government.[222]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • Manjunath Shanmugam Integrity Award (2009), for his work in Haryana[223]
  • S. R. Jindal Prize (2011) for his "crusade against corruption"[224]
  • Ramon Magsaysay Award for leadership (2015): for "his exemplary integrity, courage and tenacity in uncompromisingly exposing and painstakingly investigating corruption in public office, and his resolute crafting of program and system improvements to ensure that government honorably serves the people of India."[225]

Chaturvedi donated his Magsaysay Award to the AIIMS for treatment of poor patients.[226] AIIMS returned his check in November 2015, and he wrote another check to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) with a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing J. P. Nadda of bias against him.[227] The Prime Minister's Office initially rejected the donation, saying that it could not accept donations with conditions, but accepted it after Chaturvedi clarified that he had not imposed any conditions.[228]

Chaturvedi has been invited by the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad, the National Administrative Academy in Mussourie, and the National Forest Academy in Dehradun to lecture senior officers and probationers on anti-corruption strategies.[229]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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