New Delhi: Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called "corruption deadlier than cancer", his government is confronting a massive controversy for sacking an anti-corruption officer from AIIMS, the country's premier government hospital.
Sanjiv Chaturvedi, an Indian Forest Service officer, has demanded a CBI investigation into his removal on August 14 as Chief Vigilance Officer of AIIMS or All India Institute of Medical Sciences. His term would have ended in June, 2016.
Just three months ago, he was praised for his "absolute integrity" in a letter signed by the Health Secretary. The letter commended the "record number of penalties imposed/disciplinary proceedings initiated by him."
These reportedly included action against an additional secretary who got radio therapy for his pet dog at the AIIMS Specialty Cancer Centre.
Mr Chaturvedi alleges he was punished for exposing corruption, but Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who sanctioned his removal, says his appointment was illegal and not approved by the Central Vigilance Commission.
"It was brought to my notice that Sanjiv Chaturvedi was not eligible for the post. No need to make an issue out of it," Dr Harsh Vardhan said today as opposition leaders tore into him.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashutosh tweeted, "Harshwardhan says Sanjeev was not eligible for post. Mr. Harshwardhan you r not eligible to b a minister. U surrender before corruption. (sic)"
The officer's sacking reportedly followed a letter to the minister from BJP MP and general secretary JP Nadda.
"I was told that a person not eligible was made Chief Vigilance Officer. I wrote to the health minister earlier and again recently," Mr Nadda said.
In AIIMS, Mr Chaturvedi reportedly took up at least 12 cases of corruption and drew the CBI's attention to senior officers. One case allegedly involved an officer from Himachal Pradesh, Mr Nadda's home state.
Mr Chaturvedi was allegedly transferred a dozen times in Haryana, where he had reportedly exposed a forest scam later taken up by the CBI. He came to Delhi on central deputation two years ago.