Indian Forest Service officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi of the Haryana cadre has been removed from the post of chief vigilance officer (CVO), AIIMS, despite the fact that his appointment order fixed his tenure at four years till June 2016. In November last year, the prime minister’s office (PMO) had asked the cabinet secretary to be ‘thorough’ before taking any decision on Chatuvedi’s removal and also keep the PMO informed.
In an order issued last week, the charge of CVO, AIIMS, was handed over to the CVO of the Health Ministry for three months. Chaturvedi, who was in the crosshairs of the Haryana government for alleging corruption by ministers and bureaucrats, had joined AIIMS in June 2012 after having been transferred 12 times in five years by his home cadre, forcing the PMO to intervene more than once.
Among those opposed to the continuation of the 2002 batch officer was BJP MP J P Nadda. Since assuming office in AIIMS, Chaturvedi had acted against several top officials of AIIMS, including former deputy director (administration) Vineet Chaudhry, a Himachal Pradesh cadre IAS officer (Nadda is an MP from the state), IPS officer Sailesh Yadav, who also held the post of DDA, AIIMS, former registrar V P Gupta and former chief administrative officer Attar Singh.
While Chaturvedi refused to comment about his transfer, repeated calls and messages to Nadda and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan went unanswered.
This is not the first time the ministry has attempted to remove Chaturvedi from the post. In May, Vishwas Mehta, CVO of the ministry, had defended him in an internal note, saying, “Shri J P Nadda, MP (RS) had written a letter to DoPT on 8.5.2013 objecting to the appointment of Chaturvedi as dy secretary and part time CVO of AIIMS… Chaturvedi should be allowed to discharge his official duties without interruption as committed before the Parliamentary Committee (by) the then health secretary P K Pradhan…”
In January, MP Brajesh Pathak, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, had written to the central vigilance commissioner Pradip Kumar requesting him to ensure that Chaturvedi is allowed to work independently and without any interference. “Because of the strict action of the newly appointed officer against various powerful vested interests, including the notorious private chemist shop opened in the institute premises…there were concerted efforts to dislodge the new vigilance set up at the institute by shifting the officer,” Pathak wrote.
In August last year, there was an attempt to remove him on administrative grounds and by citing his past in Haryana.
“It is difficult to comprehend the opposition to his functioning as CVO in AIIMS when nothing adverse or irregular in his present job has been pointed out by anyone so far. Even cabinet secretariat has sent a letter asking reasons for the proposed shift of Chaturvedi from the department of health and family welfare to the department of AYUSH in such a short period,” wrote the health ministry CVO last October.
The ministry never replied to the missive from the cabinet secretary but has now decided to remove Chaturvedi from the post.