A judge has recused himself from hearing a defamation suit filed against whistle-blower IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi, citing “personal reasons”.
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 June 15. 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. Chawdhry 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, 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 approval of departmental proceedings against Chawdhry in various cases of “financial irregularity and abuse of official position”. He had specifically mentioned a preliminary enquiry 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 B S 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/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 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 alleged multi-crore scam exposed by Chaturvedi.