caught on tape CBI moves in
and Jamshed Khan
CBI is handling a bomb. A tape which records controversial god man Chandraswamy
bandying the name of a senior Supreme Court Justice to threaten Haryana
bureaucrat Sanjiv Kumar, a whistle blower who has filed a case against
Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala. “The Justice is in the pay roll
of Chautala…you don’t know what kind of a vindictive person
he is. He can ruin your career. You should compromise with him,’’
the Swamy can be heard saying on tape.
Given the sensitivity of the case, especially because it involves the
highest court, the CBI took Chief Justice VN Khare into confidence before
submitting a copy of the tape to the bench hearing Sanjiv Kumar’s
petition. The CBI has also matched the voice on tape with Chandraswamy’s
voice at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory.
An upright and honest officer, Sanjiv’s saga began when he was chosen
by Chautala to head the Primary Education Department. On taking over,
he came across the strange sight of a cupboard swathed in bandages. His
predecessor, Rajni Sekhri Sibal, had locked and sealed a stack of lists
containing names of 3,206 teachers who had been selected on merit. Sanjiv
had been handpicked for a reason: Chautala wanted the original merit lists
to be replaced with duplicate lists. But like his predecessors, who were
transferred because they refused to succumb, Sanjiv put up stiff resistance
after he was summoned to the chief minister’s residence and the
duplicate lists forcibly thrust into his car.
He decided then to go back to his office and have the seals removed from
the cupboard. He also called in a six-member committee from the education
department and got them to sign each page of the merit list. The smart
thing that Sanjiv had the presence of mind to do was to have the entire
process filmed. He made the original lists public. Soon after, he stacked
the duplicate lists into sacks and ran for his life after putting in a
leave application. Hanging on to the duplicate list and keeping them safely
were the only way Sanjiv could prove his case. There were 19 sets of lists
– one from each district – and Sanjiv, sure that he was going
to expose the corrupt system, then went on to look for 19 different safe
places in which to hide them. One set, for example, was given to Buta
Singh, a poor farmer in Punjab. Buta and Sanjiv had often eaten out of
the same plate at their guruji’s ashram in Jallandhar and there
was no way Chautala and his men would ever be pointed in that direction.
Soon, all 19 lists were similarly tucked away in hidden places.
Moving from one secret place to another, Sanjiv finally knocked on the
doors of the Supreme Court and filed a case directly against Chautala.
Since most of the complaints had been so carefully documented and filmed,
the Court ordered the CBI to conduct an enquiry and return in six months,
not with a report but with an FIR. That was a moment of triumph for the
bureaucrat who had been living the life of a nomad – he and his
wife in one city and his children in another. Threatening calls followed
him wherever he went. An anonymous caller once also told him that they
knew which school his children were studying in. Sanjiv was worried but
never deterred. The duplicate lists in safe custody were his weapons to
take the fight forward.
Chautala had actually gone to great lengths to make the duplicate list
look like the original. Procedure demands that each district list be signed
by a three-member committee comprising Class 1 officers. As many as 57
officers actually went ahead and put their seal on a list they knew was
being forged because before that they had also penned their signatures
on the original merit list. Candidates willing to pay Rs 50,000 to Rs
1 lakh found their way into the duplicate lists. “I knew I was walking
through fire but I had to blow the whistle,’’ says Sanjiv
who has been suspended by the Chautala government for not sending in his
leave applications on time. In a bid to put pressure on him, the government
has also slapped several cases against him.
He refuses to relent and as he pursues his case, the pressure is only
increasing, but the Court has granted him four armed policemen to ensure
his safety. But that didn’t stop Chandraswamy’s men from calling
him and advising him to pay a visit to the ashram, not once but twice.
The second time, two young prospective primary teachers were also present
and like Sanjiv, they too were asked to back off. “He told us not
to press the case in court and said he would get us jobs instead,”
Vijendra Dutt told Tehelka. Ironically, Dutt’s name figures in the
duplicate list and his contention in court is that as far as he is concerned,
the list is valid because it has been signed and attested by the three-member
committee. Dutt admits to the fact that he would have had to shell out
between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh for the favour.
Chautala declined to comment saying the matter was subjudice. Chandra-swamy
too refused to comment on the tape despite repeated attempts but he will
not be able to do the same once it is played out in the Supreme Court.
He, in fact, even kept the CBI hanging for a while when they wanted to
call on him to record a voice sample saying he could only meet them in
a month’s time. The investigating agency, however, found a sample
and got it forensically examined.
Sanjiv continues to labour with his case. He has not got his salary in
months but there are good Samaritans who make him smile occasionally,
like JC Chaudhary at Akash Institute where he admitted his daughter for
medical coaching. Chaudhary waived the fee and gave him a 99 percent discount
on the Rs 62,500 fee. “Moments like these strengthen my resolve,’’
he says. The people are clearly on the side of those who dare to take
on the mighty. Soon, Sanjiv hopes to have the judiciary’s stamp