Before his arrest for murder in Delhi, suspended Haryana IAS officer Sanjiv Kumar had been charged and acquitted in a textbook scam, turned whistleblower in Haryana’s teacher recruitment scam and ended up being convicted for the same scam along with O P Chautala and his son Ajay.
Sentenced in 2013 to jail for 10 years in the recruitment scam, Sanjiv was on parole when he allegedly plotted to kill a Delhi businessman.
Hailing from Dhanbad, he was suspended in 2002 as Haryana’s director for primary education. In 2003, he went to the Supreme Court with two lists of teachers, one “genuine” and the other “fake”. The “fake” list supposedly had candidates pushed by the Chautala government but Sanjiv Kumar told the court he appointed teachers from the “original” list based on merit. The trial in a CBI court, however, concluded he had followed the “fake” list while the list he had produced as “fake” was the “original” one.
“He had a naughty touch and always liked to try something unusual,” one of his IAS batchmates from 1985 recalls. Many of his batchmates, now top bureaucrats in Haryana, recall him as one of the sharpest minds among them, well read, eloquent and analytical, and fond of cooking, sports and writing, directing and acting in plays.
His wife Abha, a Supreme Court lawyer, told The Indian Express in 2013 that writing kept him going while in jail too. When she called up on his birthday in 2013, that was the first thing on her mind. “Is there anything you need?” she told him. “Don’t worry, I will get more pens and paper.”She said he was convicted on the basis of “circumstantial evidence”, and that it was after Chautala realised Kumar would not do his bidding that departmental and state inquiries were lodged against her husband.
These included the textbook scam. Sanjiv and 13 others were probed for irregular tenders for printing of textbooks during an earlier posting. Out of seven cases filed by the CBI, six ended with Sanjiv being discharged and the seventh with an acquittal in 2013.
It was after a number of cases had been lodged that he went to the apex court. While convicting him, special CBI judge Vinod Kumar noted, “Had Sanjiv Kumar not taken a step to approach the Supreme Court and had he not produced the second set of award list, this scam would not have come to light.” Yet the judge added, “Sanjiv Kumar kept on saying that he had prevented the scam by not implementing the fake list. The prosecution evidence on the other hand has proved beyond reasonable doubt that he was fully involved in the scam and had actually implemented the forged list.”
His batchmates are divided on this. One of them claims to have got a call from him before finalising the list. “He said it was a merit-based list and that everything was under his control,” the friend recalls, adding that Kumar then went on to ask if he had any candidate who needed the job.
Another batch-mate says, “Sanjiv was hounded by the Chautalas before going to the Supreme Court. Blowing the lid off the scam was one way he could protect himself. No one ever had the audacity to stand up to the Chautalas before that.”
“My husband has stood for what is true,” Abha said during the 2013 interview. “This country does not protect whistleblowers… It would have been better if he had just taken a transfer like so many other bureaucrats. He would at least have been out and safe.”