|Sheila Dikshit and Sushil Kumar Shinde in New Delhi on Monday. Pictures by PTI and Prem Singh
New Delhi, March 11: Ram Singh’s alleged suicide in Tihar jail has once again brought to the fore sharp differences between the Union home ministry and the Delhi government on key law-and-order issues.
Chief minister Sheila Dikshit appeared to suggest the North Block was responsible for lapses at the jail.
Her Congress colleague and Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde indicated she should write to his ministry instead of issuing public statements.
“Accountability and answerability are complex issues… the highest officer in Tihar jail is an IPS officer,” Dikshit said, asked about lapses that led to Ram’s alleged suicide, as she left after a meeting with the home minister today.
Asked about the chief minister’s comment, Shinde told reporters at his monthly media briefing: “Dikshit is a good leader running a good government. She has said this before also. Let her write to us officially.”
The home ministry is the cadre-controlling authority for IPS officers. One such officer heads the jail as DG (prisons) and is appointed by the home ministry.
The larger jail administration, however, is under the direct control of the Delhi government. The Tihar website is part of the Delhi government portal.
The home ministry oversees jails in Union territories. But in the case of Delhi, which has a legislative Assembly that grants it a unique position, prison-related matters are part of a “transferred subject” under the state government.
Dikshit’s arguments, especially in times of recent crises, appear to stem from this status of Delhi.
During protests in the aftermath of the December 16 bus gang rape and murder in which Ram was an accused, Dikshit had blamed Delhi police chief Neeraj Kumar for the law-and-order situation and the alleged crackdown on protesters by his force.
She had once sought the transfer of law and order to the state government. However, as Shinde suggested today, the chief minister never made a written request.
The Congress stood by Dikshit. Party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said she couldn’t be blamed for what happened in the jail.