B R Sharma is JK's new Chief Secretary

B R Sharma is JK's new Chief Secretary

Greater Kashmir had reported last week that Sharma was set to assume the office of Chief Secretary.

The State Cabinet which met here Monday cleared the appointment of senior bureaucrat B R Sharma as J&K’s new Chief Secretary.

An IAS officer of 1984 batch, Sharma, who is also Principal Secretary to Planning and Development Department, had emerged as the choice of PDP-BJP coalition to replace his predecessor Muhammad Iqbal Khanday who opted for voluntary retirement on August 31, three months prior to his superannuation, following differences with the Government. The State was functioning without a Chief Secretary from September 1.    

A resident of Jammu division, Sharma has longest service tenure left up to 2020—highest among all senior IAS officers.

Greater Kashmir had reported last week that Sharma was set to assume the office of Chief Secretary.

The Cabinet which met this morning under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed cleared Sharma’s name after he was elevated to Chief Secretary’s pay grade, an official statement said.

“His elevation mandated his induction into the Chief Secretary’s pay grade first as per the rules,” a minister said.

Born in April 1960, Sharma has a degree in Political Science and Business administration and an LLB degree.    

In his 31 years of service, Sharma, who started his career as sub-district magistrate, has held important positions in administration including Principal Secretary Home, J&K Chief Electoral Officer, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Deputy Commissioner Kupwara and Kathua, Excise Commissioner and additional CEO Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine. He has served on central deputation for six years in Department of Atomic Energy, HRD Ministry and Union Rural Development Ministry.

 “My aim has always been to deliver on the assignment that I have been entrusted. One is answerable to his conscience,” Sharma told Greater Kashmir after his elevation as CS. 

Sources said while elevating BR Sharma, the cabinet didn’t take call on “adjustment” of senior IAS officers Arun Kumar and Khursheed Ganai—senior to Sharma—presently posted within the Government.

“No other change was effected as far as this issue is concerned,” said an official. 

While 1979-batch IAS officer Kumar is senior-most bureaucrat in JK cadre, Ganai, a 1982 batch IAS officer, is on serial number 4 on seniority list, ahead of Sharma.

“Technically as of now they continue to work under their junior (Sharma),” said a senior official. “This is the status as of today.”

Another senior official said it was being “considered” to transfer Arun Kumar outside the Government as Director General IMPA so that he would not be required to report to Chief Secretary but to Chief Minister, “as a solution to the issue.”

“However Khursheed Ganai’s case hasn’t been decided as of now. The Government may take care of him (after retirement),” said the official.

While Kumar has more than one year of service left, Ganai is retiring by the end of October.

Another senior IAS officer of 1979 batch, Sonali Kumar is already functioning outside the control of Chief Secretary’s office. She is at serial number two in the seniority list and is retiring by the end of coming November.

Ashok Kumar Angurana, a 1980 batch IAS officer in JK cadre, is presently Secretary Union Ministry of Panchayat Raj and hence his case is not an issue for the Government. He will retire in April 2016.

Commenting on today’s Government decision, the official said: “This is where Government has discretion to take a decision. We have precedence in the past when a junior bureaucrat was elevated to Chief Secretary’s position by the Government, while ignoring his two seniors,” the official said.