Haryana forest scam: High Court asks Centre and state to depute officials


APPARENTLY PERTURBED by repeated adjournments being sought by the Haryana government in a case in which the former Congress government had challenged the formation of a

committee which recommended a CBI probe into various corruption cases in the state, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has now asked both the Centre and state governments to depute two

officials to the court for assistance in the matter.

“After hearing for some time, there is no assistance from either of the counsel for the state and Union of India. Therefore, one of the officers from both the state as well as Union of India, who is

conversant with the entire case, be deputed to be present in court to assist in the matter on the next date of hearing along with the relevant records,” said Justice P B Bajanthari when hearing

resumed on Monday.

The case, which will now be heard on October 25, dates back to 2014 when the Congress government had petitioned the High Court seeking quashing of the 2012 two-member inquiry committee

constituted by the Union Cabinet Secretary and the committee recommendations, which included a CBI probe into the scams exposed by IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi.

The incumbent BJP government told the High Court last year that it was considering withdrawal of the petition filed by the previous government. There have been repeated adjournments in the

case since May 31 when an additional advocate-general of Haryana had made the submission and sought time in the case.

Chaturvedi, as divisional forest officer, Kurukshetra, in 2006, had stopped the alleged illegal activities, including poaching and felling of trees at Sarwasti Wildlife Sanctuary, following which he was

transferred to Fatehabad in 2007 where he exposed illegal expenditure of public money to set up a herbal park on private land of a local politician. The officer had also unearthed plantation scams

in Jhajjar and Hisar later.

The corruption cases, exposed by Chaturvedi, had pointed to the direct involvement of the office of the former chief minister, a minister and some senior bureaucrats in the official’s frequent

transfers and a departmental chargesheet against him. The 2009 chargesheet was quashed by a Presidential order in 2011.

Following the Central Vigilance Commission and CBI recommendations on the corruption cases, Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2012 had requested the then Haryana government to file

an FIR in the case and issue notification for handing over the investigation to CBI. BJP, which was in opposition then, had staged a walk-out from the Assembly and asked the government to make

a statement on the central government recommendation for a CBI probe into the case.

In November 201, Chaturvedi had himself approached the Supreme Court for a CBI inquiry in the whole matter surrounding the scams and his alleged harassment. Three judges have recused

themselves from the case in the apex court so far. The case will be heard again by the Supreme Court on October 5 for “final disposal”.

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