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Magsaysay award winner Sanjiv Chaturvedi: A bureaucrat in constant conflict with government

The 2015 Magsaysay awardees join the community of 307 other Magsaysay laureates who have received Asia's highest honour till date.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | New Delhi | Updated: July 30, 2015 8:16:42 am
Anshu Gupta, Sanjiv Chaturvedi, Ramon Magsaysay Award, Ramon Magsaysay, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Goonj, Ramon Magsaysay Award, Magsaysay Award winner, Magsaysay Award indian winners, Magsaysay Award winners list, india news, news New Delhi : Bureaucrat Sanjeev Chaturvedi and Human Rights activist Anshu Gupta whose names were announced among the five awardees by Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF), in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Source: PTI)

Sanjiv Chaturvedi: A bureaucrat in constant conflict with govt

By picking Sanjiv Chaturvedi, the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation has decided to honour one of the most controversial bureaucrats whose 13-year career in the Indian Forest Service has been spent in constant conflict with the government.

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The foundation said, Chaturvedi, a 2002-batch officer, was being recognised for his “exemplary integrity, courage and tenacity in uncompromisingly exposing and painstakingly investigating corruption in public office, and his resolute crafting of programme and system improvements to ensure that government honorably serves the people of India.”

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Chaturvedi, currently deputy secretary in AIIMS, shot to fame after he claimed to have exposed a series of irregularities in Haryana. He alleged the involvement of powerful politicians of the state, including then Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and then Forest Minister Kiran Chaudhury. He even went to court on two of the “scams” he had exposed. Not surprisingly, he faced multiple transfers and was suspended in 2007.

The story of a young and outspoken officer taking on the political establishment for protection of forests made headlines and Chaturvedi acquired the reputation of a “whistleblower”.

Chaturvedi’s five-year stint in his home cadre saw him being transferred 12 times. He claimed to have received several threats to his life. But he did win a few battles against the state government, like when his suspension was revoked in 2008, or when a departmental chargesheet was quashed by the central government.

His original complaints of irregularities also travelled some distance. The environment ministry referred them to the Central Vigilance Commission, which recommended a CBI probe. But the Haryana government did not agree, and Chaturvedi moved the Supreme Court. That is where the matter currently rests.

The central government pulled him out of the state and put him on central deputation. But no ministry wanted him. In a different context, the then Environment Secretary Tishyarakshit Chatterjee had noted that “though Shri Chaturvedi seems to possess an uncanny knack for opening Pandora’s boxes in new places of postings, his good faith and commitment to duty cannot be questioned.”

After a long wait, during which he battled against the government through RTI petitions, Chaturvedi was appointed chief vigilance officer at AIIMS. Within weeks, he was ready to expose alleged corruption at AIIMS. He directed his ire at Vineet Chaudhary, a senior IAS officer who was then joint secretary in the health ministry, Shailesh Yadav, an IPS officer — both were associated with AIIMS at that time — and many others.

When the Narendra Modi government came to power, Chaturvedi was removed from his post of CVO, a move he blamed on Chaudhary’s proximity to Health Minister J P Nadda.

Meanwhile, Chaturvedi sought a change of cadre, from Haryana to Uttarakhand. The central government is yet to approve the transfer.

 

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