The Cross Of Courage
The officer, Sanjiv Chaturvedi, belongs to 2002 batch of Haryana Cadre, who joined the State , in September, 2005, after the completion of training at IGNFA, Dehradun, where he got two medals from President of India for excellence in the training. In the state the officer was deliberately kept without any posting for whole one year despite availability of cadre posts, being illegally occupied by non – cadre officers in blatant violation of IFS Cadre rules. During his first posting as DFO (Kurukshetra), he stopped illegal transportation and habitat destruction by influential contractors associated with a canal construction, through Saraswati Wildlife Sanctuary, which was one of the largest protected area of region, housing many rare floral and faunal species , most prominent being the hog deer. An F.I.R. was also got registered against the persons associated with above construction, for poaching of Hog deer, by the officer. However the then Chief Wildlife Warden, Mr. R.D. Jakati (who is now Director , IGNFA, Dehradun), acting under the pressure , ordered to allow this illegal transportation through sanctuary, though it was in blatant violation of section 27 – 29 of Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 (under which only five activities – tourism , scientific research, photography, investigation into wildlife and lawful trade with a person residing in a wildlife sanctuary is allowed in side a sanctuary and habitat destruction is strictly prohibited), section 26 of India Forest Act, 1927 (trespass and damage to reserve forest) and Hon'ble Supreme Court's order dated 14.2.2000 and 24.11.2005 (which strictly prohibited all activities inside a wildlife sanctuary except above five) in CWP No. 202/1995 (Godavarman Vs. Union of India). The officer complied with his orders but as a punishment, he was immediately shunted to a remote station called Fatehabad in May, 2007. In July, 2007, he was served a warning from state government for his 'misconduct' in preventing the illegal transportation and habitat destruction, the representation against which is still pending. In Fatehabad, the officer found that huge amount of public money was being spent, for development of a Herbal Park on the private land, belonging to influential persons claiming closeness to then Forest Minister, Ms. Kiran Chaudhry, without getting its ownership transferred to the forest department and in violation of PCCF, Haryana letter no. 69-74 dated 26.4.2005 (which directed to develop the Herbal Park on Govt. / Forest land). The officer reported the matter to higher authorities, but he got threatening calls and PCCF, Haryana, in his letter dated 12.07.2007, citing the clear annoyance of the Forest Minister, on account of stopping the work, ordered to continue the work. The officer again sent the compliance report, along with his leave application. However overlooking both compliance reports and the illegalities involved , the officer was placed under suspension by state government on 3.8.2007. The suspension order did not mention any specific grounds and when the officer applied under RTI Act, 2005, for file notings, he was denied the information citing the section 8(h) of the act on the ground that the matter is still under investigation. The officer got the notings only after the intervention of the State Information Commission, which passed severe strictures against PCCF, Haryana, for his interference in providing information to the officer. No mandatory detailed report was sent by state government to central government in this case, as required under section 3.(6A) of AIS (Discipline and Appeal) rules, 1969 neither it replied to the repeated reminders of the later, hence central government, in an unprecedented move, for the first time in the history of Haryana revoked the suspension order, noting the failure of Haryana Govt. to sent any document/comment in support of suspension order and terming the very grounds of suspension as unjustified. The applicant was served with a charge-sheet , immediately after the suspension, under major penalty, on 14.09.2007, mainly on these two grounds, which was promptly replied on 5.10.2007. Even after the revocation of suspension, the charge-sheet was not withdrawn.
Meanwhile, to further harassed the officer, an F.I.R. was got registered against him, for the theft of a Kachnar tree in Fatehabad in December, 2007. However the time of the incident was shown to be March-April, 2007, while the officer had taken over the charge of Fatehabad in June, 2007 and hence the police had to file the cancellation report. Similarly a case was also initiated against the officer on the basis of a complaint by a Forest encroacher in state vigilance bureau but here again the complaint was found baseless.
After the reinstatement, the officer was kept without any posting for full six months, despite availability of a large number of cadre posts being illegally occupied by non cadre officers, and in June, 2008, he was deliberately posted on a non-cadre post The officer immediately got stay from Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and after prolonged fight, finally succeeded in getting posted on a cadre post as DFO (T), Jhajjar.
Meanwhile, the then Principal Secretary (Forest), Sri P.K. Gupta, noted on 22.8.2008 , after examining the comments of PCCF in detail on charge-sheet, that whatever was being done by the officer in Fatehabad and Kurukshetra was his duty as Divisional Forest Officer and charge-sheet should be dropped, but the case was again sent back deliberately by the Forest Minister to the PCCF for comments again which were not sent for almost one and half years despite several reminders. Meanwhile in April, 2009, in response to RTI application of applicant, the office of Principal Secretary (Forest), conceded before the State Information Commission, that charges were inserted wrongly into the charge-sheet and paid a compensation of Rs. 25,000/- to the officer on the orders of the State Information Commission. In December, 2009, PCCF, Haryana wrote to Principal Secretary (Forest) that the applicant's actions in Fatehabad and Kurukshetra were legally correct and recommended to drop the charge-sheet, which was approved by the later. However, the case was again sent back to the PCCF, Haryana, by the Forest Minister, in April, 2010, raising certain queries, who again recommended to drop the charge-sheet but the new Principal Secretary, reversing the earlier stand of her predecessors and overruling the PCCF, without any new delvelopment/ evidence coming against the officer, ordered to appoint an Inquiry Officer, on 24.05.2010, almost three years after the issue of charge sheet, when the officer was on the verge of the next promotion and had expressed his desire to go on the Central Deputation. This was probably because of the closeness of the new Principal Secretary to Ex- Forest Minister, Ms. Kiran Chaudhry.
In the case of Saraswati Wildlife Sanctuary, the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (C.E.C.), in its order dated 11.7.2008, found the charges of violation of forest and wildlife statutes / Hon'ble Supreme Court's order, true and Haryana Government had to deposit Rs. 1 crore for conservation of wildlife. The Haryana Govt. paid this 1 crore plus Rs. 3 crore as fee of the private lawyers hired to save the topmost bureaucrats of the state from landing into the jail as the offence of altering the boundary of a wildlife sanctuary is the most severe offence under WPA, 1972, with imprisonment upto 7 years under section 51. The state government further paid Rs. 50 lacs as penal rate under FCA, 1980 – thus an amount of Rs. 4.5 crores were paid out of state exchequer, to cover up the violation and even then the violators, which included Mr. R.D. Jakati, were let off only on the technical grounds that the sanctuary had been denotified by the time of decision, courtesy Sri J.P.L. Srivastava, then D.G. Forest, belonging to Haryana Cadre, who could become D.G. Forest in May 2007, only after overlooking / abetting this violation. In case of Fatehabad Herbal Park, after a PIL was filed before the Supreme Court, the Government had to notify the said private land as protected forest vide section 38 of Indian Forest Act, 1927, in February, 2009, and to transfer its management to Forest Department. Thus the stand of the officer was vindicated in both the cases, but even then the charge-sheet was not filed.
During his posting in Jhajjar, which was the constituency of the State Chief Minister, the officer detected a multi crore plantation scam, in which the money from Central Governement/International Donor agencies, was shown to be disbursed in the name of fake plantations. In the one of the biggest suspension drives, the officer suspended ten field staff including two Forest Range Officers and served termination notice, to forty others. However instead of taking any action against the Senior Officers involved in the scam, he was himself transferred to Hisar , within seven months, at the peak of the investigation into the scam. In Hisar, the officer detected similar scams of fake plantation with clear cut evidence of involvement of senior officers. He also detected a license fee scam where the license of a large plywood unit, belonging to the relative of an independent M.L.A. supporting the government was given in Rs. 26,000 instead of 22 lacs. The officer got this unit sealed and cancelled its license – the unit had to finally deposit the requisite amount in March, 2010 but once again the officer was transferred in March, 2010 and put without posting because exposing these two scams, while he was on a training to the USA. After threat of contempt notice, the state government, gave cadre posting to the officer after keeping him awaiting posting for full one month but not to the same post but to sidelined post as DFO (Production) at Hisar. This was the 12th posting order of the officer in past 4½ years. Thus every power available with the state government – transfer, suspension, charge-sheets, fake cases, were used against the officer.
In June, 2009, the officer was given the Manjnath Shanmugam Integrity Award by Magsasy Award winner Aruna Roy at I.I.M. Bangalore. The officer also received RTI awards initiated by Magsasy Award winner, Arvind Kejriwal. Based on the leading news item in "The Times of India" issue 1.8.2008, The Prime Minister Office sought report from the state government about the officer but it has not been sent so far.
Contrast this with the attitude of state government in case of multi crore Jhajjar Plantation scam of year 2009, when instead of taking any action against the DFO responsible for this scam, he was awarded with prize posting as DFO (T), Gurgaon ; Rs. 25 crore scam of NREGA by DFO (Ambala) in year 2010 – again no suspension/charge-sheeting of the DFO and Rs. 20 lacs scam of Juhi Feeder in Hisar were 200 acres ridge plantation was done on papers only, under centrally sponsored FDA scheme – again no action against the DFO.
The petition of the officer against appointing the Inquiry Officer and quashing the charge-sheet is pending before Ministry of Environment and Forest.
The International Organisation for Animal Protection - OIPA in India requested you to look in to for appropriate orders, strict action against offenders and appreciation for fighters like Sanjiv Chaturvedi.
भ्रष्टाचार के खिलाफ आवाज उठाने की हिमाकत करने पर चार साल सरकारी प्रताड़ना का शिकार हुए आईएफएस अधिकारी संजीव चतुर्वेदी के मामले में तत्कालीन वन मंत्री किरण चौधरी की मंशा पर संदेह जताते हुए केंद्रीय वन और पर्यावरण मंत्रालय की कमेटी ने उनकी भूमिका की सीबीआई जांच कराए जाने की सिफारिश की है।
कमेटी ने मुख्यमंत्री के ओएसडी बी.आर. बेरी को भी सीबीआई जांच के दायरे में लाने की सिफारिश की है। चतुर्वेदी के मामले में राष्ट्रपति की ओर से चार्जशीट रद्द करने के आदेश मिलने और उन्हें बिना ना-नुकर के लागू करने की मजबूरी झेलने के बाद राज्य सरकार को चौधरी के खिलाफ ऐसी जांच कराए जाने की सहमति देनी पड़ सकती है। इसका कारण यह है कि कमेटी ने इस जांच को राज्य को वन और पर्यावरण योजनाओं के लिए भविष्य में मिलने वाली वित्तीय मदद के साथ जोड़ने की सिफारिश की है।
इसका मतलब यह है कि भ्रष्टाचार के उक्त मामले में संजीव चतुर्वेदी को प्रताड़ना की जांच की जद में आई चौधरी और बेरी की भूमिका की जांच किसी स्वतंत्र एजेंसी से नहीं कराने पर राज्य को केंद्रीय वन मंत्रालय की ओर से मिलने वाली वित्तीय मदद, विशेषकर एफडीआई को रोका जा सकता है।
इन्हें बनाया आधारकमेटी ने चौधरी की जांच की सिफारिश का आधार हिसार-झज्जर में करोड़ों का वन घोटाला सामने आते ही चतुर्वेदी का तबादला करने के आदेश जारी करने को बनाया है। मुख्यमंत्री के ओएसडी बी.आर. बेरी के खिलाफ जांच का आधार चतुर्वेदी को 2007 में सस्पेंड करने से पहले इनकार और फिर इसकी मंजूरी देने को बनाया गया है।