A panel set up to probe allegations of irregularities in the functioning of Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA) has virtually given a clean chit to suspended LKA secretary Sudhakar Sharma. LKA Administrator C S Krishna Shetty had formed the committee, under retired District and Sessions Judge (Delhi) S K Sarvaria, in March to probe allegations pertaining to the arts institution, including the issue of Sharma’s pay scale vis-à-vis his post.
In its report, the Sarvaria panel states that Sharma’s payscale is commensurate with his post, and since his selection was done through an open advertisement by a committee, wherein a joint secretary of the Culture Ministry was present, there is no prima facie anomaly in his appointment. “It appears there is no irregularity in granting the scale of Professor to Dr Sudhakar Sharma,” says Justice Sarvaria in the report, which was accessed by The Indian Express. It also quotes an advertisement issued by the LKA for the Secretary’s post in 2005, which shows parity of the post with that of a university professor.
Regarding other allegations of irregularities and misconduct against Sharma, the report says, “I am placing my reliance on the order passed by the Minister of Culture in December 2014, which contains aspersions against the-then Chairman of LKA (K K Chakravarty), pointing towards witch-hunting of (Sudhakar) Sharma by the Chairman.” The panel has also recommended immediate action regarding irregularities in the functioning of LKA, which were discovered during an audit by the HRD Ministry in August 2015.
LKA Administrator Shetty told The Indian Express, “The report has been submitted to the ministry. We are awaiting their response.” When contacted, Sharma said, “None of the allegations against me hold merit. The harassment has been going on for a long time.” He has now applied for voluntary retirement. In January, MoS (Culture) Mahesh Sharma suspended Sharma over “serious irregularities”, a year after he was reinstated in the LKA by the ministry. The MoS also ordered an inquiry against him in December 2016. Sharma has already been dismissed once and suspended twice from the LKA. In April, the Delhi High Court came down heavily on the LKA. It directed the Centre, Culture Ministry and the LKA to explain Sharma’s appointment as well as the delay in the inquiry.