The government decision to appoint B R Sharma as Chief Secretary of J&K has drawn criticism from officers senior to him with Financial Commissioner Revenue Arun Kumar, reportedly deciding to apply for premature retirement.
Sharma has been appointed to the top administrative post, superseding four senior officers, Arun Kumar and his wife Sonali Kumar, both 1979 batch IAS officers, A K Angurana (1980 batch) and Khursheed Ahmad Ganai (1982 batch).
Sources said Arun Kumar has made his displeasure known to the government over the appointment and is submitting papers for premature retirement while as FC Industries, Khurshid Ganie, who is also senior to Sharma “is not happy with the decision”.
Sources in the government, however, said Kumar, who is senior to Sharma by five years, may be asked by government to stay put and “may be relieved for central deputation”.
A senior official, however, said after the inquiry against Kumar over his role in Amaranth land agitation in 2008, which incidentally swelled the ranks of the BJP in Jammu division, he has not been “empanelled with the central government as per his seniority and rank”.
“Even as Sharma is the CS, Kumar is of the equal grade in the state while as he has not been empanelled to the position commensurate with his rank and position,” said a top official.
According to sources, Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed took the decision to appoint Sharma as CS in the cabinet meeting which was held at 10 am and lasted for near one-and-a-half hour.
“In the cabinet meeting the government appreciated the services rendered by former Chief Secretary, Iqbal Khanday,” said a senior government official.
A senior government official said Sharma, a 1984 batch IAS officer, will retain the additional charge of Planning department and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Jammu and Kashmir Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA). “A separate cabinet meeting will be held to carry out the transfers in the administration,” said the official.
As per the government order issued by General Administration Department (GAD) today, Sharma will be entitled for a slew of benefits.
“A government car shall be placed at his disposal on the condition that all expenses relating to maintenance of the vehicle including any payment on account of taxes will be borne by the State Government against a payment of Rs 1001- per month payable by the Chief Secretary for its use, all running expenses of the vehicle will be paid by the State Government for all official purposes and private purposes upto 500 kilometers per month. The officer shall be entitled to a fully furnished rent free government accommodation for residential purposes,” noted the order issued by GAD Secretary, Gazanfar Hussain.
When contacted Kumar said he expected the government to make seniority as a criterion for appointment of the CS. “I am weighing different options,” he said.