Sanjiv Chaturvedi, caught in the cross-hairs of the NDA government over investigation of corruption cases in AIIMS, has been awarded the Ramon Magsaysay award for this year.
The Indian Forest Service officer is one of the two recipients from India this year. Anshu Gupta, founder of the non-governmental organisation Goonj is the other recipient.
A release from the award foundation said that Sanjiv Chaturvedi had been given the award for emergent leadership from India and 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 program and system improvements to ensure that.”
The award comes at a time when Chaturvedi is caught in a slew of court cases against various orders of the government, including his removal from the post of chief-vigilance officer of AIIMS where he was investigating several large scams and senior officials.
He also accused the PMO of not backing his campaign against corruption in Haryana and the AIIMs.
"PMO didn't support (my) fight against corruption," the bureaucrat Chaturvedi told NDTV, soon after the Magsaysay Foundation announced the award.
"Zero tolerance should be against corruption, not honest officers." he added.
"All kind of lies were spread against me when I was fighting corruption in AIIMS and Haryana,"
"My mistake was (that) while fighting graft, I took (Prime Minister Narendra Modi's) 'Na Khaunga Na Khane Dunga' slogan at face value," said Chaturvedi.
Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, also a Magsaysay award winner, has sought the deputation of Chaturvedi to his personal office. This request is now stuck with the health ministry even though the NDA government initially indicated that it would act quickly on it.
Chaturvedi recently won a legal battle against the Prime Minister-headed Appointments Committee of Cabinet on the change of his cadre from Haryana to Uttarakhand. He got a favourable order from the Central Administrative Tribunal after the panel sent his long-standing plea back to square one instead of taking a decisive call on it as is required under service rules of officers.
Chaturvedi has also been made party to a case filed against health minister J P Nadda in his personal capacity, the health ministry and others on alleged attempts by the central government to scuttle investigations into several scams at India’s premier hospital, AIIMS.
He also recently got the due promotion from the BJP government in his parent state Haryana after he had filed a petition for the same alleging that it had been wrongly denied to him.
Even in the previous UPA regime he had been rescued four times from harassment by the Haryana state government (then under Congress rule) through Presidential orders, which are passed quite rarely for officers in various central services. He has faced 12 transfers in a period of five years between 2005-2010.
Several criminal cases were filed against him, which eventually closed down in his favour while he investigated several scams in Haryana leading to the central government ordering a CBI inquiry. The inquiry could never take off with the state government continuing to oppose such a move.
Then on central deputation in AIIMS, as the chief vigilance officer Chaturvedi completed investigations and took action in 165 cases of corruption over a period of two and a half years. Attempts were made to remove him during UPA regime too and then after the NDA took over he was finally removed, after J P Nadda requested the then health minister Harsh Vardhan. Subsequently J P Nadda was made the health minister. Upon Nadda’s orders some of the cases of corruption at AIIMS have been sent back to be investigated from scratch while Chaturvedi remains divested of the charge of CVO.