Uttarakhand HC allows whistleblower officer to argue his own case

Express News Service

NAINITAL: Uttarakhand High Court has allowed 2002 batch Indian Forest Services officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi to appear in person and argue his case.

The judgement dated September 27, 2021 by division bench of Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma stated, “Therefore, this Court is of the opinion that Mr Sanjiv Chaturvedi should be permitted to appear in -person and argue his case”.

The court remarked, “A bare perusal of the record of this case clearly reveals that Mr Sanjiv Chaturvedi is, indeed, faced with an uphill task, as he has acted as a whistleblower on many occasions.”

The bench further stated in the judgement, “His knowledge of law, his erudite arguments, his critical analysis of the law and the facts has been lauded by a few legal fora and permitted him to appear and argue for the case .Thus, clearly, Mr Sanjiv  Chaturvedi is in a position to argue both on facts and law in the present case” .

However, citing provisions of Advocate Act, 1961 and orders of Supreme Court, the bench said, “Court has been bestowed with the discretionary power to permit, or not to permit such a person, who is not enrolled as an Advocate, to appear before it”  

Chaturvedi, in his affidavit, had contended that he has been permitted to argue not only before the Central Administrative Tribunal, but also before other High Courts  as party-in-person.

He further pleaded that despite the fact that the advocates engaged by him have appeared on his behalf pro bono, but even then, they have been subjected to conviction for criminal contempt. Thus, he finds it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to engage the service of any counsel, the court stated.

“Mr Sanjiv Chaturvedi is also of the opinion that he should not risk getting his counsel in trouble while he fights his single battle against powerful persons. Therefore, he wishes to save a counsel from any professional embarrassment, which may come his or her way”, the bench remarked. 

Urging the members of the Bar and legal fraternity ‘to do a bit of introspection’, the court in the judgement said, “It is, indeed, saddening to note that a litigant claims that ‘he has no faith in the members of the Bar’. But, perhaps, this is a misplaced impression in the mind of Mr Sanjiv Chaturvedi. For, there is no dearth of honest and hardworking lawyers in the Bar.”   Next hearing of the matter jas been scheduled on October 23.

The matter is related to the present system of empanelment at the level of joint secretary and above in the central government including recently introduced system of 360 degree appraisal and lateral entry of private sector experts. 

Chaturvedi had filed a case before Nainital Bench of Central Administrative Tribunal in February 2020 over this issue alleging irregularities.

In December 2020, on the basis of an application filed by central government , CAT chairman ordered to transfer hearing of this case, to Delhi bench of the tribunal. 

This transfer order was challenged  by Chaturvedi in December 2020, before Uttarakhand HC which issued notices to the center as well as chairman of the tribunal. The HC had reserved orders on August 26, 2021 in the matter.