The CBI has sought permission of the Supreme Court to take over investigation into alleged violation of forest and wildlife laws in Haryana under the watch of the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government.
The probe agency has filed an affidavit to the effect while responding to a Supreme Court notice on a criminal writ petition filed in September 2012 by whistleblower Sanjiv Chaturvedi, an Indian Forest Service Officer who accused the Haryana government of harassing him for uncovering alleged forest scams running into crores of rupees.
“CBI herein seeks kind indulgence of this Hon’ble Court to pass necessary order qua the Respondent No 2 — CBI for taking over the investigation of the matter,” stated the affidavit filed on October 10 by Tarun Gauba, SP, CBI, Anti-Crime Branch, Chandigarh. The matter will come up for hearing in the second week of November.
Now on deputation to the Union Health Ministry, Chaturvedi was removed recently as AIIMS Chief Vigilance Officer by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. This came after BJP MP J P Nadda demanded his ouster. The row over his removal prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek a report from the Health Ministry.
Since 2007, Chaturvedi has locked horns with the Haryana government, raking up alleged cases of corruption and violation of laws. It took five years, two presidential interventions and an inquiry by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to revoke the suspension order and chargesheet that the state slapped on Chaturvedi.
In March 2012, the Centre recommended a CBI probe into the charges he had levelled.
But the state government, citing a note by the Department of Personnel and Training which stated that the Centre had no jurisdiction to intervene, said an inquiry conducted by the MoEF was “ultra vires of their powers and… devoid of any force of law”.
Chaturvedi moved the Supreme Court which sent notices to the Cabinet Secretariat, the state government and the CBI in November 2012.
By April 2013, the Centre and the state filed their affidavits, the former standing by its recommendation for a CBI probe, the latter opposing it. In a parallel move, the Haryana government moved the High Court this April, challenging the Centre’s jurisdiction.