Why Chaturvedi’s removal as AIIMS CVO defies logic

Contrary to Harsh Vardhan’s claim, he was eligible, and his appointment was perfectly legal

pankaj

Pankaj Kumar | August 23, 2014




Contrary to health minister Harsh Vardhan’s claim, whistle-blower officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi’s appointment as chief vigilance officer of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) was not illegal and the central vigilance commission (CVC) had legitimized it too.

Also read: Why Sanjiv Chaturvedi was shown the door

The Indian forest service (IFS) officer of Haryana cadre, known for his anti-corruption moves, had apparently earned the ire of political masters in the state, when the centre intervened and made him the CVO at the prestigious institute in the capital two years ago. He, however, has been removed the post earlier, once again apparently because he had ruffled feathers of those close to new political masters. Harsh Vardhan told reporters on August 21, “Chaturvedi was not eligible for the post he was holding. We were told that without the approval of the CVC, nobody can be assigned the post of CVO anywhere.”

However, facts are contrary to the health minister’s claims.

1. It has been alleged that Chaturvedi, a deputy secretary, cannot hold the post which is meant for a joint secretary level officer. However, para 2.3 of the CVC manual clearly mentions that a deputy secretary rank officer can very well become the CVO in ministries or departments.

2. CVC did indeed raise an objection to Chaturvedi’s appointment as the AIIMS CVO in 2012 itself, but the health ministry had then given a strong reply, pointing out that there was nothing irregular in the decision. The ministry had argued that the appointment was done as per section 6(2)(c) of the AIIMS Rules of 1958. Moreover, AIIMS, as an education and research organization, is not included in the list of commercial organisations – only for which a prior approval of CVC is mandatory for the appointment of a CVO as per the CVC manual.

3. Governance Now has a copy of the file notings by health secretary Luv Verma (dated May 23) and then health secretary PK Pradhan (way back in 2012) that the decision was taken by the AIIMS general body, institute body (IB), and the standing finance committee (SFC), that this issue was already settled, and the then health minister (Ghulam Nabi Azad) had twice expressed his approval. These statements communicated to CVC as well.

4. CVC then did not raise any objection again. In its correspondence, it repeatedly addressed Chaturvedi as CVO. In one instance, CVC in fact told AIIMS on October 4, 2012 that though Chaturvedi was part of the procurement/tender works in the institute, he should be relieved of that duty because he was CVO and this might lead to a conflict of interest.

5. Indeed, CVC had never objected to the appointment of CVO though the deputy director of administration used to hold this post before Chaturvedi, leading to a conflict of interest as all the tender/procurement were approved by deputy director (administration).

6. Also, the vigilance panel also accepted all reports Chaturvedi sent to it as CVO, and did not object even when he reported the alleged irregularities committed by two former deputy directors (administration) of AIIMS, Shailesh Yadav and Vineet Chaudhary

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