Caught in a Centre-State face-off, senior IPS official from Tamil Nadu Archana Ramasundaram was on Thursday suspended by the Tamil Nadu government shortly after she joined the Central Bureau of Investigation as its Additional Director in New Delhi at short notice.

In a dramatic turn of events, the 1980-batch IPS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre was placed under suspension on charges of “deserting office,” barely hours after the official was virtually summoned by the Centre to take charge “immediately.”

Official sources said Ms. Ramasundram, in her capacity as Director-General of Police and Chairperson of the Tamil Nadu Uniformed Service Recruitment Board, had sent a letter to the Chief Secretary here, saying she was proceeding to Delhi to take up the new post.

But the State government informed the Centre on Thursday evening that her action is “non est, sans legal or procedural propriety.”

The Centre has also been asked to direct the officer to return to her parent State and report at the police headquarters in Chennai.

Significantly, CBI Director Ranjit Sinha had himself recommended her name.

However, the appointment triggered a controversy as she was selected by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, which overlooked Ranjit Pachnanda, a 1983-batch IPS officer, recommended by the Central Vigilance Commission.

The issue was raised through a PIL petition in the Allahabad High Court, which rejected it. The appointment has also been challenged in the Supreme Court by senior journalist Vineet Narain. The next hearing is scheduled for Friday. “Since there was no stay, she has joined office,” said a CBI official.

Though the Centre had issued orders appointing Ms. Ramasundaram to the post three months ago, she was not relieved by the State. On May 7, the officer received a letter from the Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT), asking her to take charge immediately, as this “high-level supervisory rank post” in the CBI could not be kept vacant for long. This is more so with the Supreme Court monitoring several high-profile cases being probed by the CBI.

“I wrote to the authorities concerned and even met them on several occasions, seeking early relief. The DOPT sent many reminders to the Chief Secretary...but there was no response. I decided to obey the orders of the Government of India,” Ms. Ramasundaram told The Hindu from Delhi.

(With additional reporting by Devesh K. Pandey from New Delhi)

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