How health secy misled PMO in AIIMS CVO ouster case

Following Modi’s conversation with health minister on whistleblower Sanjeev Chaturvedi’s removal, health secretary Lov Verma sent detailed letter to PMO with lies, half-truths and concealed facts

pankaj

Pankaj Kumar | October 9, 2014


A Haryana cadre Indian forest service pfficer, Sanjeev Chaturvedi was appointed central vigilance officer at AIIMS in June 2012.
A Haryana cadre Indian forest service pfficer, Sanjeev Chaturvedi was appointed central vigilance officer at AIIMS in June 2012.

The issue of Sanjeev Chaturvedi’s removal as the central vigilance officer (CVO) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is getting curioser and curioser. It now emerges that prime minister Narendra Modi had had a telephone conversation with health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Chaturvedi’s removal.

It also appears that the prime minister had sought facts regarding the case, and health secretary Lov Verma provided those to the prime minister’s office (PMO) on August 23. But Verma’s – marked to cabinet secretary Ajit Seth and principal secretary to the PM PK Mishra and Nripendra Misra – contains several misrepresentation of facts. (See letter attached here)

Here are some facts that have been misrepresented and concealed:

ALSO READ: Why Sanjiv Chaturvedi was shown the door


1. The 144th governing body held on November 27, 2010 and chaired by the then union health minister and attended by Sushma Swaraj, Motilal Vora, then health secretary and other imminent persons and 144th institute body held on January 16, 2012 that was chaired by then health minister and attended by Swaraj and senior officers of the health ministry decided to entrust the charge of CVO to the newly created post of deputy secretary – Sanjeev Chaturvedi. This was done as per rule 6(2)(c)  of AIIMS rules, 1958, under AIIMS Act, 1956. This rule clearly says that the proposal to create any new post has to be recommended by the standing finance committee chaired by the union health secretary. Approval by the general body and the institutional body is required subsequently.

While all the processes were duly followed in appointing the Indian forest service officer as the CVO of the renowned institution, this is not mentioned in Lov Verma’s letter to the PMO. Significantly, Verma himself had written in his file noting in May this year that due process was followed in Chaturvedi’s selection.

2. Commitment was given to the parliamentary committee on June 8, 2012 by then health secretary PK Pradhan for entrusting the charge of CVO to newly appointed deputy secretary Sanjeev Chaturvedi. This, too, was concealed in Verma’s letter.

Importantly, the same move had taken place under the previous UPA government when Chaturvedi was transferred to the department of AYUSH in AIIMS on August 21, 2012. The parliamentary committee had then issued a notice for breach of privilege and the health secretary had to withdraw the transfer order. Then health secretary PK Pradhan had disclosed this before the parliamentary committee on January 7, 2013.

3. The general body and institutional body meetings and commitment to the parliamentary committee  was all concealed in Verma’s letter August 23 letter to the PMO.

On May 23 this year, joint secretary and health ministry CVO Vishwas Mehta had concluded that all rules were followed when Chaturvedi was selected for the job. The appointment, Mehta jotted in his file noting, “was done as per the statutory requirement and performance of the officer has been exemplary so matter should end here itself”. 

Lov Verma himself had approved this noting the same day.

But Verma opened the case without any change in factual position on exactly the same contentions made by BJP Rajya Sabha MP JP Nadda on August 13. The health secretary submitted the proposal for Chaturvedi’s removal from the post of AIIMS CVO. But CVO and joint secretary in the health ministry Vishwas Mehta was kept out of the loop this time.


ALSO READ: BJP leader Nadda got AIIMS whistleblower ousted

4. Verma’s letter to the PMO also conceals references or influence put by BJP leader Nadda to get Chaturvedi removed. The BJP MP wrote four letters between May 8, 2013 and June 24 this year. File noting for Chaturvedi’s removal as CVO  began with Nadda’s letter.

5. Lov Verma’s August 23 missive misrepresents another fact: it says Chaturvedi held the CVO post as additional charge. But AIIMS’s order dated July 7, 2012 makes it clear that the role of CVO was Chaturvedi’s main charge. He had minor additional responsibilities of the estate section, pension and grievances.

ALSO READ: Why Chaturvedi’s removal as AIIMS CVO defies logic

6. Lov Verma’s letter also concealed the fact that when the CVC had raised the queries  on the issue of CVO appointment in AIIMS ON September 30, 2012, the joint secretary had strongly refuted the queries on following grounds:

  • The deputy secretary and director is appropriate level for holding the charge of CVO as per para 2.3 of the vigilance manual.
  • AIIMS  does not fall  in the list of 100 organizations for which prior approval of the CVC is mandatory.
  • CVC cannot go into policy matters as per section 8(1)(h) of CVC Act, 2003.

7. The report sent to the PMO  avoids mentioning the main issue of curbing corruption in AIIMS, which the ousted CVO was performing successfully. A record number of actions were taken in disciplinary cases and CBI cases were also registered in AIIMS in the last two years. These facts were recorded by the CVO of the health ministry and also on file noting dated May 23, 2014, and approved by health secretary Lov Verma himself. 

These cases two CVOs preceding Chaturvedi – Vineet Choudhary and Shailesh Yadav – who were chargesheeted under major penalty and CBI cases were registered against them. Chaturvedi had also worked to bust a fake drug  racket worth Rs 10 crore operating inside AIIMS.
 

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