The Centre has told the Delhi High Court that a former secretary of Lalit Kala Akademi, who was accused of financial irregularities and retired in 2017, is liable to refund nearly Rs 40 lakh for withdrawing higher pay without government approval.
The submission was made before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar by the Ministry of Culture in its affidavit in which it has also stated that the official was yet to refund the money.
The affidavit was filed in response to a plea by a lawyer -- Mukeshwar Nath Dubey -- alleging corruption and misappropriation of public funds by the country's premier academy of fine arts.
The petition, filed through advocate Arpit Bhargava, has also levelled allegations of misappropriating public funds and corruption against two former secretaries of Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA) -- Sudhakar Sharma and Vishalakshmi Nigam.
The ministry, in its affidavit, has contended that Sharma, who retired in 2017, was liable to refund an amount of Rs 39,30,294 on account of withdrawal of higher pay scale which was released to him by the then administrator without jurisdiction and lawful authority of the central government.
It has also said that Sharma "overstayed" at LKA, "over drew salary beyond his entitlement", tried to get himself absorbed as Secretary "against the rules" failing which he claimed selection to the post "in contravention of the rules and by suppressing vital information in the recruitment advertisement".
"Thus, by the above act, Sharma failed to maintain absolute integrity and acted in a manner unbecoming of a government servant and violated the CCS (conduct) Rules," the affidavit has said.
Regarding Nigam, the affidavit has said a special audit with respect to alleged irregularities in her appointment was carried out and a report has been received.
It said that the report has been forwarded to LKA to examine the observations, recommendations and action to be taken as suggested in the audit, and the cultural body has been directed to submit a compliance report to the ministry.
The petition has sought directions to the culture ministry and LKA to recover the misappropriated funds from the accounts of the erring officers.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)