The Karnataka government on Monday transferred Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Prisons D. Roopa, days after she charged AIADMK leader V.K. Sasikala with bribing senior jail officials to get VIP treatment in the Bengaluru jail.
Roopa's sudden transfer has sparked outrage in the city jail with a section of inmates staging protest against the government move and demanding it be revoked.
Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) criticised the officer's transfer and accused state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of protecting criminals and high-profile convicts like Sasikala in the jail.
Siddaramaiah holds the Home portfolio after the ruling party's state unit president G. Parameshwara quit the post in June on the Congress High Command's advice.
The state government also transferred Director General of Police (Prisons) H.N. Satyanarayana Rao without a fresh posting, as he is set to retire this month-end.
Roopa and Rao were engaged in a public spat since June 12 over the alleged privileges given to Sasikala, lodged in the women's cell of the central jail since February 15.
An order from the Department of Personnel said Roopa, an Indian Police Service officer of 2000 Karnataka batch, had been "transferred with immediate effect".
She has been posted as DIG and Commissioner for Traffic and Road Safety in Bengaluru in place of A.S.N. Murthy, who will now be Additional Director of Police, Forest Cell, Bengaluru.
N.S. Megharikh, IPS, Additional Director General of Police, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Bengaluru, was posted as Additional Director General of Police, Prisons, to succeed Satyanarayana Rao.
Besides Roopa and Rao, Director General of Police (Intelligence) M.N. Reddi has been transferred as DGP of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in place of Megharikh, while Amit Paul, IGP, Intelligence, will hold additional charge of DGP, Intelligence, in Bengaluru.
The transfers of Rao and Roopa came on a day when a one-man inquiry commission, headed by retired IAS officer Vinay Kumar, was to begin probe into the charges of corruption and irregularities in the city's central jail.
Justifying the transfers and new postings of the six senior IPS officers, a statement from the Chief Minister's Office later said the government had asked Rao to proceed on leave and transferred Roopa to the new post to maintain the sanctity of the inquiry process and safeguard it from interference.
"The government is committed to allow the inquiry to proceed unhindered so that evidence based on truth emerges. Strict action will be taken to bring the guilty to book," asserted the statement from the State Secretariat.
After Roopa submitted two reports to the government on the illegal activities, including supply of narcotics, gambling and drinking in the prison, Rao submitted a report on Sunday countering his deputy's charges.
Roopa had alleged that Sasikala, jailed for corruption, was getting special privileges as she had bribed senior officials. Rao denied the charges.
Noting that the public conduct of both the IPS officers (Rao and Roopa) was not in the spirit of officers abiding by service rules and protocol, the statement said they both went to the media and discussed the case even after an inquiry was ordered on July 13, a day after Roopa submitted her first report on the irregularities in the prison to state Director General of Police R.K. Dutta.
"The interaction of both police officers with the media during the course of inquiry was unwarranted, and amounted to a serious violation of the All India Services Conduct Rules," pointed out the statement.
"In view of this (service rule) violation, the government issued notice to both the officers. The subsequent visit by the concerned officers to the Central Prison on July 15 witnessed disturbance emerging in the jail premises," added the statement.
Roopa submitted her second report to Dutta on July 15, alleging tampering of jail records and deleting a part of video footage from the closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the central prison.
The commission has been asked to submit a preliminary report of findings in a week and a final report in a month.