Senior IPS officer JK Sharma stepped down as Tihar prisons chief, hours after being given the appointment order by the Delhi home department on Tuesday.
Sharma, a 1982-batch IPS officer – presently posted as director general (Home Guard) – was given additional charge of prisons in the afternoon, an order which was reportedly passed without consulting the lieutenant governor.
In Delhi, the transfer and appointment of all gazette officers is approved by the lieutenant governor. However, Sharma’s appointment to Tihar was signed by an additional secretary of the home department.
Taken by surprise, L-G Najeeb Jung is said to have nullified the order, a move that can become another flashpoint in the tussle between Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Jung. The two have been at loggerheads since the appointment of joint commissioner of police Mukesh Meena as the Anti Corruption Branch chief in June last year.
By Tuesday evening, Sharma returned the charge to the earlier officer as the appointment was not approved by ‘competent authority’. Prison sources said Sharma took the decision when he learned that the home department passed the appointment without Jung’s approval.
In a letter issued under the DG (Prison) credentials, Sharma further said he will be “happy to resume the above mentioned charge on approval of competent authority”.
The country’s largest prison has been without a chief since February 28, when DG Alok Verma was made Delhi Police Commissioner.
Delhi is in the unique position of being governed by a chief minister and his cabinet as well as the Centre through a lieutenant general, the constitutional head of the National Capital Region. Among the issues that have brought the two sides in conflict has been the issue of law and order coming under Jung’s purview; Kejriwal has time and again sought to bring the police department under the Delhi government’s ambit.