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Delhi’s Chief Secretary row: Don’t you have any other IAS officer to be CS, SC asks Centre

The poser from the bench came as Solicitor General, representing the Central government, asserted that the Central government has the power to extend the tenure.

Delhi’s Chief Secretary row: Don’t you have any other IAS officer to be CS, SC asks Centre

File Photo: Supreme Court

The Central government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it intends to extend the tenure of Delhi’s incumbent Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar, whose tenure comes to end on November 30, the Supreme Court asked why it (government) was stuck on one person as the Chief Secretary to the Delhi government.

Heading a bench also comprising Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra, Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud asked the Central government to show its power and grounds for the extension of the tenure of the incumbent chief secretary Naresh Kumar.

In a poser to the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, the bench asked, “Don’t you have any other IAS officer who can be the Chief Secretary. You can appoint whoever you want. Why are you stuck with only one who can be the Chief Secretary of Delhi.”

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The poser from the bench came as Solicitor General, representing the Central government, asserted that the Central government has the power to extend the tenure.

 At this bench asked “Show us the powers to extend by tomorrow. Ultimately their point is that why are you insisting on only one name or else just make the appointment.”

the Solicitor General said that the extension of the tenure of the incumbent Chief secretary would be for a limited period.

Objecting to the Solicitor General’s statement on the intended extension of the Chief Secretary’s tenure, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the bench that there existed an absolute lack of faith between the current Chief Secretary and the Delhi government.

Urging the bench to consider alternatives and suggested selecting a candidate from a panel or appointing the senior-most IAS officer, Singhvi said that the unilateral extension of the term of Chief Secretary without the aid of the Delhi government could not be held valid.

On November 24, the Supreme Court had directed the Central government and the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi to propose a panel of names, out of which the Delhi government may choose one to be the Chief Secretary of the national capital. The court had said that leaving it to Centre to propose the shortlisted names for the post of Chief Secretary would take care of their (centre) concerns.

Chief Justice Chandrachud in the November 24 hearing had told the Solicitor “Why doesn’t LG and Centre propose a panel of names? Ultimate choice will be from a panel made by you. You suggest a panel. Then they (the Delhi government) will pick up one name.”

The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, notified in August, gives the Centre control over bureaucracy in Delhi and an authority was created under it for the transfer and posting of Group-A officers.

The Aam Aadmi Party government is resisting any move by the Centre to unilaterally appoint a new Chief Secretary without consulting it.

The Delhi government has alleged that the 2023 Amendment Act is in violation of the 2023 Constitution bench judgment which renders the Delhi government a mere observer in the appointment of the most crucial member of the permanent executive, the Chief Secretary.

The top court is hearing a plea by the Aam Aadmi Party led Delhi government against the Centre move to extend the tenure of the current Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar – or appoint a new official without consulting it.

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