The Supreme Court has set aside a high court order that had declined to interfere with a plea made by Indian Forest Service officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi seeking a stay on a criminal defamation complaint filed against him by Himachal Pradesh Chief Secretary Vineet Chawdhary.
An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra found that the Himachal Pradesh High Court order had not adverted to any aspect nor addressed the submissions of the petitioner and sent the matter back to it for passing a reasoned order. In view of the aforesaid, it is appropriate to set aside the impugned order and remand the matter to the high court for fresh consideration and pass a reasoned order in accordance with law, it said.
Vineet Chawdhary, a 1982-batch IAS officer of Himachal Pradesh cadre and former deputy director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences-Delhi, had filed a complaint against Chaturvedi in April 2016, alleging defamation for making public his vigilance profile. "It is not that petitioner is remediless and as such must first take recourse to the remedies in accordance with law," the order passed by the Himachal Pradesh High Court Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol read.
In his petition before the Supreme Court, Chaturvedi stated that being the chief vigilance officer of AIIMS, he had investigated instances of corruption allegedly involving Chawdhary, who was then the deputy director at the premier medical institution, and that being a public servant, no criminal proceedings can be initiated against him without prosecution sanction of the government.
In April this year, the Delhi High Court had issued notices to the central government on a petition filed by an NGO alleging illegal closure of cases involving Chawdhary and some other senior officials of AIIMS.