Indian Express: Chandigarh: Saturday, April 01, 2017.
THE INTELLIGENCE Bureau (IB) has called whistleblower IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi as a “diligent officer”. IB’s comments are part of an affidavit filed in the Delhi High Court on March 6. The Centre had given him an effective “zero” in his annual appraisal report for 2015-16, the year the officer was conferred the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for battling corruption. Chaturvedi is currently posted in Uttarakhand while the appraisal was for his assignment as deputy secretary at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. It was the period when he had been stripped of his responsibilities and left “without work”, forcing him to move the Supreme Court.
In its affidavit, the IB said, “…the Intelligence Bureau has a history of 128 years of service to the nation and has played a prominent role in the area of National Security. The reports prepared by Intelligence Bureau are sensitive in nature and meant for the consumption of the Government.” “…the IB’s reports are secret in nature and any disclosure of such information will have adverse impact on National Security. The respondent (Chaturvedi) being a diligent officer from all India services is also expected to appreciate sensitive nature of the work being carried out by intelligence agencies,” it added.
The IB had prepared its report about Chaturvedi when he had sought change of cadre to Uttarakhand from Haryana a few years back, citing “extreme hardships” during the Congress rule. Then, the Centre, in August 2014, had sought a report from the IB. The intelligence agency had sent its report to the Cabinet Secretary. The officer, on January 18, 2016, had sought a copy of the IB report in connection with his petition before the Supreme Court, seeking action against Haryana officials. But, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) did not supply the report to Chaturvedi on the basis of IB’s objection.
IB is one of the organisations specified in the second schedule to the RTI Act under Section 24, exempting it from purview of the RTI Act except when the Central Information Commission (CIC) considers that the information sought is ether related to corruption or violation of human rights by that organisation. The CIC in April 2016 directed IB to supply a copy of the report to the officer but the agency approached the Delhi High Court. The HC stayed the CIC orders. The intelligence agency also says that “the respondent (Chaturvedi) did not address the RTI application to IB at any stage”.
In its April 2016 order, the CIC stated, “The IB, in performance of its duty, established that the appellant was being harassed for exposing corruption.” It’s sad that the same department, which recognised and established the fact of harassment of the appellant, denied that copy to him. “It is not a question of Sanjiv Chaturvedi or any other but the requirement of protecting thousands of sincere officers, who are silently protecting the rule of law, to enable and embolden them by developing systemic safeguards as provided in the Constitution. The rule of law governed system should stand like a rock by those who fight corruption,” the CIC added.