Haryana seeks to block CBI probe into forest scam

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 union government for recommending a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry in the scams unearthed by whistleblowing forest service officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi.

A 2010 report by the union environment ministry had named senior officials and politicians in the state as being involved in the scams and the harassment of Chaturvedi.

The Hindu newspaper said on Wednesday that it had accessed the letter written by the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) – the top 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 ''in the public interest'' to file a writ petition in the court, seeking quashing of the enquiry report, dated 8 December 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.

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 Chaturvedi on the matter asking for CBI enquiry to be initiated. The state refused to initiate such an investigation, citing an allegedly contradictory note of the union government's department of personnel and training and other objections.

''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,'' The Hindu quoted state attorney-general Hawa Singh Hooda as saying.