With an aim to put a lid on long-pending disputes at the Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA), the government has asked the CBI to probe into the alleged irregularities at the premier arts institute. In a letter dated November 20, 2017, addressed to CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma, the Ministry of Culture has requested the agency to conduct a probe into “irregularities and violation of Government guidelines in Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi”.
The letter, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, says that “an internal audit for the period 2012-13 to 2014-15 of LKA had been conducted. Audit in its conclusion observed frequent instances of flouting of rules and procedures by the LKA in its functioning and operations. Audit has recommended recovery of excess amounts paid to various individuals, agencies etc. and asked for fixing responsibility wherever appropriate”. The ministry has also issued instructions to the LKA administration through another letter, dated November 22, 2017, directing them to cooperate with the probe.
In their one-page letter to the CBI, signed by a joint secretary, the ministry has made a special mention of complaints received against former chairman Ashok Vajpeyi regarding misappropriation of government funds and causing a loss to exchequer allegedly by allowing certain artists to use the galleries free of cost.
Following this, the LKA had constituted an enquiry committee in March 2017 chaired by retired IAS officer D P Sinha. The panel had submitted its report to the LKA Administrator C S Krishna Shetty almost a month later and recommended withdrawal of the “blacklisting” of 23 artistes who were “punished” by the previous administration under K K Chakravarty. It had also slammed Vajpeyi for alleged violation of ‘code of conduct’ and mixing official tours with pleasure trips. After going through the report, MoS (Culture), Mahesh Sharma, has directed to hand over the case to CBI “for a more comprehensive investigation”. Sinha says, “I am not aware of this development but our committee gave a report to Administrator, Lalit Kala Akademi, based on facts and documents.”