All is not well with the Lalit Kala Akademi, the apex cultural body in the country, the Delhi high court has said. The matter pertains to the appointment and pending disciplinary inquiry against Sudhakar Sharma, former secretary of the Akademi. “Though the Government of India has pleaded that an administrator be appointed… it appears the same is nothing but an eye-wash and Sudhakar Sharma was controlling the affairs of the Akademi,” said the bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal.
Sharma was holding the post of keeper in National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). After issuance of a memorandum, he joined as the secretary of the Akademi from April 2001 on deputation for three years. Before expiry of the term, the executive board of the Akademi reportedly took a decision to absorb him in the post permanently, which was opposed by NGMA. Following this, the Union Ministry for Culture in August 2004 said the permanent absorption of Sharma as secretary could not be considered.
After several rounds of deliberations in the intervening years, in January this year, Sharma was suspended by MoS (Culture) Mahesh Sharma over “serious irregularities”, a year after he was reinstated to the Akademi by the ministry.
The move had come after several ministry officials reported a series of irregularities following the secretary’s reinstatement. The MoS had also ordered an inquiry against secretary Sharma in December 2016.
Passing orders on a batch of petitions against him, the bench said on Monday that it did not know why an inquiry against Sharma had been pending for so long. The bench directed the Union government, the Ministry of Culture and the Akademi to file detailed replies stating how Sharma’s appointment was justified and explain the delay in inquiry against him. The court said all three had to ensure that Sharma did not interfere with the administration of the Akademi.