Monday, February 26, 2024

Supreme Court allows Centre to extend tenure of Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar

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The Supreme Court has given the green signal to the Central government for extending the tenure of the incumbent Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, and comprising Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra said the move by the Central government to extend Kumar’s tenure appeared to be prima facie legal.

The Top Court, in its order, said that keeping in mind the provisions of the Constitution Bench Judgment and the subsequent Services Act, the Central government has decided to extend the services of incumbent chief secretary for 6 months cannot be construed to be violative of law.

The Court was hearing a plea filed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government opposing the extension of the incumbent Chief Secretary’s tenure.

The Central Government had been questioned by the Supreme Court on the need for extending the tenure of incumbent Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar.

The same bench had questioned the Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta on Tuesday as to why the government was only recommending one person to be Chief Secretary of Delhi.

The bench wondered if they have no other IAS officer who can be recommended as the Chief Secretary. The bench asked, “You can appoint whoever you want. Why are you stuck only one who can be the Chief Secretary of Delhi?”

The Court granted the SG time till today to demonstrate the Central government’s power to extend the Chief Secretary’s tenure.

The Apex Court was hearing plea filed by Delhi government opposing the extension of the incumbent Chief Secretary’s tenure or the unilateral appointment of a new official by the Central government.

The Delhi government was represented by Senior Advocate AM Singhvi, who urged the Court to consider alternatives and suggested selecting a candidate from a panel or appointing the senior-most IAS officer.

The counsel questioned about the extension being a unilateral decision, bypassing established procedures. Singhvi highlighted that the Apex Court itself had ruled that the Lieutenant Governor was bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.

However, the Court pointed out that The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2023 grants the Central government power to appoint the Chief Secretary of Delhi.

As such, the Court suggested going as per law. It, however, had asked the Central government not to extend the tenure of the current Chief Secretary but to make a fresh appointment.

SG Mehta insisted the Central government has the power to extend the appointment.

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