Sangeet Natak Akademi: The Curious Case Of Office Intrigue And Nepotism 

Sangeet Natak Akademi: The Curious Case Of Office Intrigue And Nepotism Photo Credit: Sangeet Natak Akademi
Snapshot
  • A Swarajya investigation reveals that under Secretary Helen Acharya, promotion of culture has a low priority for the government’s premier cultural body

    The Akademi has repeatedly broken government rules for appointments, promotions and giving contracts to suppliers

    There could have been widespread financial mismanagement and corruption

    Many of the Secretary’s family members seem to have gained monetarily

    Any employee who protested against the Secretary’s actions seems to have harassed or even suspended

When Swarajya heard about some alleged irregularities in the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the country’s premier government cultural body, we spent three weeks following up on leads and uncovering the truth about these accusations.

Between April and May, we looked at the evidence against Helen Acharya, Acting Secretary of the Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA), who was alleged to have indulged in nepotism, financial corruption and harassment of innocent employees. This correspondent informed her of the charges and gave her three weeks to tell us her side of the story. The evidence against Acharya was also mailed to Mahesh Sharma, Minister of Culture, for his perusal and necessary action.

Sharma examined the records of staffers and Acharya was demoted to Deputy Secretary (Dance) and her protégé, Theba Devi, has been made a Programme Officer (Dance). They happened to hold these posts respectively before their last promotion under the UPA regime. Rita Swami Choudhary has succeeded Acharya as Secretary of the SNA and took charge last week.

Acharya has dragged the government to court. But proving her points won’t be easy, for the judicial process can have its own drawbacks. The clarifications we received from the SNA are mostly arguments and assertions, whereas the evidence against Acharya is in the form of copies of official documents. The documents that the SNA sent us on 16 June have been in our possession since April. And Acharya has some tough questions to answer.

Acharya’s Appointment

Did Acharya deserve to occupy the post?

She denies that she was former Chairman Leela Samson’s candidate for the post- as alleged by The Economic Times. But we have evidence not only of the fact that Acharya was Samson’s student of Bharatanatyam but also of the fact that Samson recommended her for the post of Acting Secretary, superseding some of her seniors.

An SNA internal document in Swarajya’s possession says that Samson was looking to fill the Secretary’s position vacated by Jayant Kastuar with one of the “senior most Deputy Secretaries”, and that “no senior Deputy Secretary was ready to take charge”. But Swarajya learns that there were at least three deputy secretaries senior to Acharya, who were ready for the task but were denied the chance.

An email from the SNA to Swarajya, in response to our questions, says:

“…the letter written by the Chairman, SNA, to the Secretary (Culture), MoC, her internal note dated 13-02-2014 initiated for appointing Smt. Helen Acharya as Secretary, SNA, exercising her powers vested under Rule 7 (ii) of Rules and Regulations of SNA duly vetted by the Executive Board Members, appointment letter dated 18-02-2014 issued by the Chairman, SNA appointing Smt. Helen Acharya as Secretary, SNA w.e.f. 18-02-2014…”

But this does not address the seniority issue, and it does not deny or disprove that Acharya was Samson’s candidate.

Sangeet Natak Akademi: The Curious Case Of Office Intrigue And Nepotism 
Sangeet Natak Akademi: The Curious Case Of Office Intrigue And Nepotism 

The email attachment from the SNA reads, “… Helen Acharya has nowhere tried to influence the system in any manner; rather she continued to contribute her best in the most difficult and challenging situations throughout during this period.”

This is an assertion, not proof that nothing irregular was done.

At the time of her appointment as the ad-hoc Secretary, it was announced that a search committee would be constituted to look for a suitable candidate within three months to occupy the office permanently. However, according to the office records which Swarajya possesses, the committee failed to find such a candidate despite three rounds of interviews. And now, the SNA’s emails do not deny that as many rounds of interviews were held; they also do not deny that they could not find a suitable candidate in these interviews.

The candidates who appeared for these interviews were either declared ineligible for the job, or their curricula vitae just disappeared from the record! Obviously then, Acharya had to continue executing her brief as that of the secretary of the Akademi (Refer to the letter from the Inspecting Officer of the Director General of Audit, Central Expenditure, towards the end of this report).

The interviews spanned three years rather than the planned three months. During the first round of interviews in 2012, an applicant pointed out some errors in the situations vacant advertisement, due to which the entire process was dropped and postponed to 2013. Conduction of the first interview was in June 2013 at the India International Centre in Delhi and the second at Rabindra Bhavan the next month. Why these interviews led to no selection is unknown. The Akademi cited the reason of “national security” to keep the information classified!

Now, one of the two emails from the SNA informs us that, yet again, an “advertisement has been published in the Employment News on 27-02-2016. Applications so received were shortlisted, and on 27 May 2016 interviews were held.”

Sources told us that Minister Mahesh Sharma was sufficiently aware of the evidence against Acharya that we had sent to him. The latest round of interviews that the SNA talks of, above, are a result of his questioning Acharya’s status once again. Subsequently, Acharya was demoted, and some of the allegedly ignored employees of the SNA have been assured that their cases are being looked into and that they need not discontinue their services as yet.

How Did Acharya Become Permanent Secretary?

Colleagues of Acharya were taken aback by a circular dated 20 February 2014 that announced her appointment as Permanent Secretary two days earlier, and that she had also taken charge in her new capacity. But the Akademi was participating in an exhibition of indigenous performing arts at the Pragati Maidan on 18 February, and hence, no meeting of its executive council- which is compulsory for the appointmentmay have been held on that day. In fact, no entry of such a meeting on the given date was registered in the administrative section of the Akademi. These events happened when Samson was at the helm of affairs.

I met with Acharya and two of her colleagues, Anindita Sen and Theba Devi, at the Akademi’s premises in Rabindra Bhavan on 20 May. They found this allegation amusing. They said not every Akademi staffer participated in exhibitions; therefore, such a meeting could still be held on 18 February that year. However, on getting back to our sources with this denial, we were told once again that there was no executive council meeting held that day.

The Akademi has refused to answer repeated RTI queries seeking details of the process of appointing Acharya. One response said that the question had exceeded 250 words and, hence, it could not be answered! The rule, however, says that no RTI questioner can be denied a reply solely on the ground that he or she has exceeded the word limit.

The complainants alleged that the interview board had rejected even the in-house candidates: OP Bharati and Rita Swami Choudhary. Bharati was said to be falling two months short of the eligible age (45 years). This was ridiculous because he would have completed those months by the time she took charge.

The Akademi admits that rejection of Bharati’s candidacy was on the grounds of age. It told Swarajya: “OP Bharati being under age at that time could not be shortlisted, since as per rules age relaxation is applicable only for the upper age limit.” But there is a precedent that the age of a candidate, found otherwise suitable for the job, is overlooked. For example, when Jayant Kastuar became Secretary, he had not attained the eligible age either; he was then 43 years and six months old.

Some colleagues of Acharya say that Choudhary withdrew her candidacy to avoid confrontation with Samson’s protégé. These days, Bharati is working as the Director of the Cultural Centre for the Northeast. There is more about Choudhary towards the end of this report.

Closing And Moving Centres Arbitrarily

Let’s first deal with allegations that have been refuted. Some colleagues of Acharya say that one of her initial acts was to discontinue some wings and programmes of the Akademi, namely the National Museum for the Performing Arts (NMPA), Dhrupad Kendra and a wing of the Akademi that catered to the Western states. In my meeting with Acharya, she said that the charge was false as the NMPA was a wing for which the Akademi had been seeking funds from the government for years, and the money demanded had not been sanctioned as of now.

The SNA says, “The proposal regarding approval of the National Museum for the Performing Arts had been submitted to the MoC, whereas, it is yet to be approved by the MoC and still is a project for the SNA.” However, an NMPA website exists, and it credits the Akademi for “the preservation and promotion of performing arts” at the Museum on the opening page itself! If it is not being run by a department of the government, it must be shut down for hoodwinking the people into believing it’s a State-run body with its introductory passages. Private entities are debarred by law from assuming names that contain the adjectives “All-India” and “National”.

Acharya also said that there was no such centre called “Dhrupad Kendra” under the Akademi. But this document of the said institution shows that such a centre exists indeed (6th page of the PDF), or it did exist until the financial year 2014-15, the date of the publication of the linked document.

Then her colleagues alleged that the wing for the North-East was moved first from Shillong to Guwahati and then from there to Agartala. The Shillong Times reported the first move, and The Assam Tribune reported the second. It was proposed that the centre would be transferred again when protests by artistes of the region halted the move.

To this, the SNA says “Setting up of SNA’s Kendras outside Delhi, shifting of Akademi’s established Kendras within North- East from one location to another, etc., is under the domain of Akademi’s Executive Board and General Council. No such decision can be taken and implemented by the Secretary, SNA, in her individual capacity.”

Overbilling

A case where Acharya cannot shrug off her responsibility is the tendering process undertaken to select agencies for different jobs of the ministry. It was stopped, and work was outsourced to various private firms without following government norms, some of her colleagues allege. The SNA calls this a “false allegation” and explains that the “quality of work delivered in the past by these agencies has always been found to be very satisfactory”. But the evidence in our possession, over-billing by an air-ticketing agency, for example, raises doubts. (Refer to the section, “Financial Mismanagement”).

Arbitrary appointments

The answer to an RTI query by an applicant for the post of Librarian and Information Officer revealed that the post went to Swatantra Bogra, who was, the complainants say, Acharya’s candidate. The then Joint Secretary of the Ministry was not part of this interview committee, which again is against the norm. Any subsequent consent of the Joint Secretary to the appointment of Bogra was not secured either. Once again, the SNA calls this a “false allegation”, but its email does not explain why the signature of the then Joint Secretary of Ministry of Culture is missing in the relevant document.

Then, it is expected that the appointment of the Deputy Secretary and the Programme Officer for music, dance and drama sections would be from a pool of experts, in these respective domains of art. It is further expected that an expert in dance wouldn’t officiate over matters of music, or one of music wouldn’t determine the rights and wrongs of drama; so on and so forth.

This logic was defied in 2014. The Programme Officer (Drama) now suffices as the section officer of other departments as well, even as quite a few section officers move about the office without being assigned some meaningful work.

The SNA calls this a “false allegation”, too. It says, “It is prerogative of the Management of an organization to utilize some posts being in the equivalent scale for operation for an another priority area than for which it is allocated within the organisation for a shorter period on ad-hoc basis, until such time it seems feasible for making an overall balance for undertaking the workload in its different sections and additional posts required are sanctioned to the organisation by the Government due to manifold increase of work in past years.” This is bureaucratic jargon at its most absurd.

Not everybody bringing his or her complaint to Swarajya may have had legitimate grievances. The case of former employee Amarjit Kaur, for example, was dismissed by the Delhi High Court. Then, the allegation that the governing body was bypassed to promote a certain Sarla Jaswal to the post of an assistant and add her to the regular cadre proved false. One of the emails from the SNA clarifies that Jaswal “was promoted to the post of Assistant on ad-hoc basis against her own post on 5 August 2010 and regularised to the said post vide Office Order no. Admn./2-63/10-11/2014-15/104 dated 6 January 2015 w.e.f. December 2014 under promotion quota to the said post”.

But these two are exceptions that emerged in the course of our investigation.

In a manner unheard of in government offices, the income records of some personnel named show “no scale” (range of basic salary). Many appointees from ministerial or general categories now occupy technical positions where it is important to have domain knowledge, which they don’t have. Posts are likewise converted from technical category to ministerial category in an unplanned manner. Section Officer Hema Ramesh had become the Personal Assistant of the Chairperson (she has since been moved to Accounts). Deputy Secretary of the Kathak Kendra, BB Chugh, sufficed as Deputy Secretary in administration.

Acharya et al. denied both the charges— (a) that some section officers were not experts of the respective domains in which they had been placed and (b) that some income records were missing. However, yet again, no evidence was shown to substantiate the denial. “How is it possible?” was Acharya’s counter-question about the apparent lack of some officers’ expertise in the respective fields and the missing income records.

And then, the replies to us via email say that it is the Akademi’s prerogative “to utilise some posts being in the equivalent scale of operation for another priority area…” as quoted above in more detail. Either the employees are being moved around based on their respective areas of expertise or just because there are vacancies to be filled. Both cannot be true at the same time.

Official records of the Akademi show that such random placements are described with phrases like “adjusted against the post of”, “promoted… purely on ad-hoc (sic)”, etc. Rather than explaining how an official is competent for the job he/she is entrusted with, the records justify their placements by equivalent, comparable or same pay scales! Rather than defending itself, the SNA’s emails have ended up supporting this allegation!

Deputy Curator Jayant Raj Choudhary, for example, was promoted, ignoring objections raised by his colleagues Shailendra Vadan and Prakash Tata Chand. Programme Officer (Dance) Theba Devi was recruited by ignoring quite a few rules for the appointment. Subsequently, she was promoted to the rank of Deputy Secretary (Dance)- once again without observing the rules. The SNA did show us the order of her promotion, but then the document proves that the promotion was ad-hoc!

What’s interesting is that Vadan, an assistant documentation officer, himself faces the charge of being recruited wrongly. Then, Chand is told no such post as Deputy Curator exists. But then, how was Jayant Raj Choudhary claiming to be a Deputy Curator?

The SNA says the matters related to Choudhary were “taken up by the earlier Secretary”, and they “have already been referred to the MoC (Ministry of Culture) for necessary directions to the Akademi…” It does not say that the allegations of Vadan and Chand are false. Further, the fact of the matter is that, if the decision regarding Choudhary was of the previous Secretary, it has not been reversed yet. Moreover, the document related to Choudhary that the SNA emailed to us confirms that he was appointed as a Deputy Curator. Then, why was Chand told that no such post exists?

There could be many posts of a technical nature that have been passed off as ministerial posts to facilitate or justify arbitrary decisions of the undefined ‘selectors’— which can be reported once the Akademi responds to the pending RTI queries. One Lalita Bajaj, for example, awaits answers to about 200 odd RTI applications. The SNA says Bajaj poses “general questions” again and again, which have been answered once and for all. But the attachments with the SNA’s emails do not contain any answer to Bajaj issued under the RTI Act.

The SNA has denied that the number of assistants now double the vacancies the ministry had announced or could provide for, and that senior clerks now number twice the vacancies the ministry had. But Swarajya is in possession of documented evidence that supports this charge.

The problem with such irregular appointments and Ad-Hoc placements is that even if these officials are competent for the job in hand, they stay in an unsettled state, knowing that they will be shunted to a different department any day.

Harassment Of SC/ST Employees

Some employees of the SNA, from the Dalit community, say that no file has been sent for the perusal of Vinodi Sharma (named earlier in this report) for the past several years! She was punished with a suspension order for, our sources say, approaching the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) for redress of her plight, her colleagues say. They furnished a document that shows that the administrative committee that had been instituted to probe her conduct had found her guilty of no more than “minor bickering”.

Acharya, Sen and Theba Devi have alleged that Vinodi Sharma was facing some charges of misdemeanour and her complaint was an attempt on her part to deflect attention from her “misdeeds”. The two emails from the SNA were sent to us a day before the deadline for responding to our questions would lapse. On Sharma, one of the emails says she “was suspended for denying and concealing facts of being under trial for Case No. Cr. Case 250/2 of 2014, Number 02403R0255062014. She was asked to give an explanation in this regard, but she denied in writing that any such charge is filed against her till a copy of FIR was received in the office (all documents enclosed). Other acts of indiscipline can be studied from the documents enclosed. Therefore, all allegations of harassment made by her are false. Presently she is in In-charge of Training Programmes in the Music Section (copy of the office order enclosed)”.

This is intriguing. If Vinodi Sharma is facing charges, how is she still continuing in service? As for the charge against—FIR against a complaint makes accusations of physical assault by Vinodi Sharma, filed by a certain ‘Vimla’— we have already furnished a document signed by the authorities of the SNA, including Acharya, that says she was found to have done nothing more than indulge in “minor bickering”. A copy of the “Final Report Form (Under Section 173 CrPC)” that the SNA sent to Swarajya only confirms that the police had verified her name and address. The report shows that no arrest was made, and it also says that Vinodi Sharma had no prior record of crime. There is no result showing against “laboratory analysis”. And the status of the case in court, as per the SNA record, is “pending”.

Then there are employees under the SC and ST quotas who say that they were sidelined in portfolio allocation to favour Acharya’s candidates Hema Ramesh, KS Pillai, Meena Johri and Anil Goyal. The marginalised employees have passed on documents to substantiate this allegation to Swarajya.

In its defence, while refuting the charge, the SNA says, “Equal opportunity, commensurating (sic) the capability to deliver each employee has, is being given to all for performing duties in different sections of the Akademi.” Moreover, the Akademi’s records (like rosters) do not show that the SC and ST candidates have been accommodated in the said office of the Ministry of Culture, as per the right bestowed upon them by the Constitution. Strangely, while no appointment is valid without a declaration in a roster- and the government is supposed to stop grants to an office funded by it that does not observe this rule— RTI applicants are told that no roster has been made yet! Other RTI applicants await answers from the ministry, Akademi and NCSC.

The SNA says that “the roster has been prepared… and uploaded on its website”. It says that a copy of the roster is with the NCSC and that the Minister of Culture knows about it. As of now, what we have, however, is a five-year-old assurance from the SNA to an RTI applicant that says, “roster taiyar hone ke baad aap ko uplabdh kara diya jaayega (you will be shown the roster once it is prepared).”

On the SNA website, there are two rosters— of which one is for promotions, and the other is for direct recruitments. But they are draughts. And dated 20 November 2015, they have remained draughts for more than half a year now!

Rani Kein is an assistant and SC employee whose condition in the Akademi is the most riveting of all. In an email to our editorial director Sandipan Deb, forwarded to me, Anindita Sen wrote, “…Rani Kain has been under suspension since 8 February 2016 for mishandling and obtaining official data and records from Personal File of Shri Tejswroop Trivedi, Hindi translator, Employee of SNA.  The said incident has been confirmed from CCTV footage, duly certified by the Forensic Lab (all documents enclosed). Copies of other Office Memorandums issued to her for several acts of indiscipline and misconduct in the Government office (copies attached).  Therefore all allegations of harassment made by her are false.”

Nobody is complaining that the CCTV footage is fake or doctored. The question is whether Kein was set up. According to her, one fine day, a peon approached her with a file and asked whether it belonged to her department. She held the file in her hands for a while to flip through a few pages to check whether it was indeed meant for her and then told the peon that it did not belong to her department. These actions were caught on camera, after which she was suspended on the charge that she was snooping into other departments’ files!

A source informed Swarajya that Rani Kein had received just Rs 5,000 as remuneration in May, which is about one-sixth (or less) of her regular income. Her children go to college; she is finding it difficult to fend for them, even as she lives hand-to-mouth in her one-room accommodation. Now, though it looks unlikely that Acharya would continue as acting or permanent secretary, she has extended Kein’s suspension by two months!

Rani Kein Complains To The National Commission For Women
Rani Kein Complains To The National Commission For Women
Rani Kein Complains To The National Commission For Scheduled Castes And Scheduled Tribes 
Rani Kein Complains To The National Commission For Scheduled Castes And Scheduled Tribes 

Other Discrepancies

About 50 recruitments and promotions were made for the posts of Assistants, Upper Division Clerks and Lower Division Clerks in one go on 31 March and 1 April 2014 through an order that bore a special despatch number. These dates make it obvious that the UPA’s appointees were in a hurry to make their final moves before the government changed, which looked imminent around that time.

The Akademi has the audacity to defy court orders too! Raghunathan Pillai and Mohan Singh are among seven Group D daily wagers who have been occupying their respective positions since 1993 against the Supreme Court’s directions. In the riposte that the SNA sent to Swarajya, this has not been denied.

Financial Mismanagement

The then Deputy Secretary in finances and accounts, RK Chandna, for example, who had been deputed from the revenue department, was sent on a tour in March last year. In his absence from the Delhi office, several bills raised by private firms- that he would have usually checked- were cleared for payment via cheques signed by Acharya. Chandna was then sent back to the revenue department.

Then, some months ago, the rules of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) were tweaked to clear “arrears” worth about Rs 60 lakh to all assistants. Swarajya has documented evidence of this. In its reply, the SNA says that Chandna “was deputed on tour outside Delhi and not for the reasons” that this report states. Fair enough! But that deputation happened after the signatures by his proxy. The SNA email does not explain why it could not wait for Chandna’s return for the signatures. Of course, “no rules of the DoPT… have been flouted by the Akademi” as the email states, but this is not about violation of a rule; it is about getting another authorised signatory for cheques at an opportune moment. The SNA’s reply is silent on the validity of the amount cleared through these cheques.

The relevant DoPT rules apply only to Assistants recruited between 1 January 2006 and 30 August 2008. If this anomaly is not corrected, it is estimated that the government will incur a loss of about Rs two crore per employee on account of their pension and other retirement benefits, when they finally retire.

The list of people whose travels by flight in the financial years 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 were paid by the Akademi includes not only members of the so-called Cabinet of the Secretary but also members of their family and some Class IV staff. While firms Balmer Lawrie & Co Ltd and Thomas Cook India are sanctioned for providing the Akademi’s employees with these air tickets, in Acharya’s time these were sourced via Stride Travel & Tours.

This may involve unusual practices of distinct kinds. The tickets were booked at the eleventh hour for a high price and then cancelled. Some employees have provided Swarajya with evidence of overbilling and eleventh hour bookings. The Akademi has sourced tickets worth up to Rs four crore via Stride in the last three years, of which we possess supporting evidence. Even Class IV staffers, who happily carry out the orders of what appears to be a sinister cabal in the Akademi, have been permitted to enjoy junkets.

Of the workshops held for different performing art forms, the folk dance form called Chhau got the biggest share in the financial years 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15. Acharya’s husband, Shashadhar Acharya, is a regular participant in these workshops. The number of these workshops, training programmes, preparatory programmes, etc. for Chhau held in the last three years total almost 60. Mr Acharya presides over the training programme for Chhau as well, and the payments made by the Akademi against these programmes go to their son, other kin as well as a domestic help. The beneficiaries include:

The Acharyas’ son Shubham Acharya,

Mr Acharya’s cousins Dilip Kumar Acharya, Dinesh Acharya, Sukanta Kumar Acharya, Bittu Acharya and Prakash Acharya

Mr Acharya’s nephew, Sapan Kumar Acharya and

Mr Acharya’s other relatives Mrityunjay K Acharya, Ranjit Kumar Acharya and Trinath Acharya.

During our meeting, Acharya claimed that her in-laws based in Odisha have a history in the tradition of Chhau, beginning with her father-in-law. In its written reply, too, the SNA is at pains to explain how glorious the Acharyas have been in furthering Chhau, but the Akademi does not explain why this family alone gets most, if not all, of the Akademi’s contracts and grants.

Further, the Ministry of Culture has been informed by certain organisers of events abroad that the funds sought for conducting performing arts functions in the country and abroad have been on the higher side. Once in a while, the ministry suspects something is fishy and drastically prunes the amount demanded. For example, for the centenary celebration of Bismillah Khan in Varanasi, the SNA had asked for at least Rs three crore; it was granted roughly Rs 40 lakh.

Over and above this, some employees have alleged waste in the sets constructed for events, stages and ambience. When this was pointed out to an eminent dance exponent, she said on the condition of anonymity— we are withholding the name of the dance form so that nobody suspects who she is— that the small fraction that goes to the artiste is important for his or her sustenance, but the much bigger chunk that goes to the event management firm must be investigated and brought down to a reasonable level.

In fact, it is near impossible to get an artiste to say something on record. One of the Twitter users who tagged me is a known culture critic. He messaged me privately, “Artistes won’t speak in public because it affects them. They don’t get shows etc. It hits their livelihood.”

The expenses incurred on the renovation of the Meghdoot Auditorium and Kathak Kendra are to the tune of Rs 1.5 crore. The contracts for these repair jobs were handed out without proper tenders. These tasks have undergone no performance audit. The SNA’s emails say nothing about these renovation works.

Two junior clerks were appointed some months ago in the absence of a representative of the ministry. Vinodi Sharma, named in this report above, had apparently objected to this round of recruitment.

The Last Month

Early in June, when Acharya realised that her days as the Secretary of the SNA might be numbered, among the urgent decisions she took was the extension of Kein’s suspension by two months. Acharya’s staying in a position of authority also concerns more than 30 contracted workers. It is a government norm that, when jobs are made permanent, workers on contract are absorbed on a priority basis. However, there have been instances where they were overlooked while taking in candidates afresh. Even now, several contracted workers’ employment status is stuck in limbo.

The culture critic referred to earlier in this report wrote, before we received the emails from SNA: “Helen has been photocopying every file and paper of everyone to find loopholes to keep her in place.” An officer in the Akademi remarks: “If the accusers can furnish evidence in support of whatever they say promptly, but the accused need at least three weeks to come clean, something is clearly wrong.” Acharya et al. eventually sent us assertions and arguments not amounting to proof. Another famous performing artiste says, “Leela Samson’s people have never been good at documenting their work and maintaining proper records.”

A renowned dancer says that her biggest concerns are that, one, the system in SNA is not transparent and, two, in this entire dispute about officers, art has taken a backseat.

NB:

1) While the official responses to all RTI applications, which have been cleared, mentioned in this report appear on pages of any search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing and their likes), a click on any of these links leads to the error message “404 Not Found”. One suspects that the Akademi has suppressed the PDF documents to avoid embarrassment. This is why hyperlinks to these papers do not appear in this report. Nevertheless, this correspondent is in possession of hard copies of these documents. They can be produced on demand, if any, by the authorities.

2)This correspondent also carries copies of all the programmes mentioned in the report officially notified by the Akademi or the ministry.

3) A copy of every cheque payment reported above is in the possession of this correspondent.

4) We have copies of all circulars of the Akademi and correspondence mentioned in the report.

5) Where a piece of information does not pertain to any of the categories above, it appears in the story as an allegation by colleagues of the accused. But right after every claim, we have also added the SNA’s response to it. Let the reader decide who is telling the truth.

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