Senior officials and politicians named in scams

Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s Congress government in Haryana has hired the services of a senior private lawyer to file a writ petition before the High Court against the Central government for recommending a CBI inquiry in the scams unearthed by whistleblower and forest service officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi.

Haryana state government has decided to challenge the Union government's inquiry report of 2010 in the state High Court which became the basis for the Centre, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the CBI to recommend central agency investigations into multiple forest scams unearthed by Chaturvedi. The 2010 report had named senior officials and politicians in the State as being involved in the scams and harassment of the whistleblower.

The Haryana government’s decision to approach the High Court, asking for the Central government’s report to be quashed, comes even as the Supreme Court is hearing a case filed by Mr. Chaturvedi on the matter asking for CBI enquiry to be initiated. The State refused to initiate such an investigation, citing a contradictory note of the Union government's department of personnel and training and other objections.

The Hindu accessed the letter written by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) – the most senior forest officer in the State to senior advocate Rajiv Atma Ram. It stated that following instructions from the State government the services of the lawyer were being hired the “in public interest” to file a writ petition in the court, seeking “quashing of non-est enquiry report, dated December 8, 2010 of the Union Environment and Forests Ministry and actions consequent thereto in which certain uncalled for adverse remarks have been passed against State functionaries.”

A copy of the letter was sent to the Principal Secretary in charge of the forest department in the State and the Advocate-General of Haryana.

AG Hawa Singh Hooda, speaking to The Hindu said, “Yes I am aware of the case. Private lawyers are hired in the rarest of rare cases by the State government. Usually autonomous bodies, such as corporations of the government do so, but it is done in rare circumstances.”

Even though the state is logged into the case in the Supreme Court, the Haryana PCCF initiated the process of taking the matter to the High Court. The Hindu had reported earlier on the PCCF recommending that the state government file a case in the High Court to counter proceedings in the Supreme Court against state officials including those in the chief minister’s office. He had warned that the Central government had come out in favour of the CBI inquiry before the apex court in the on-going case.

The matter was referred to the state law department which recommended asking for advice of the attorney general instead as the case was sub-judice in the Supreme Court. But the state government has instead decided to hire the services of a senior private advocate to approach the high court in the same case.