Delhi Chief Secretary’s 6-Month Tenure Extension Cleared By Supreme Court

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In Centre vs Delhi, Supreme Court Clears 6-Month Extension For Top Officer

Tenure of Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar has been extended by six months (File).

New Delhi:

The Delhi government suffered a setback Wednesday after the Supreme Court cleared the centre’s proposal to extend by six months the tenure of Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar, who was supposed to retire in 24 hours. The Delhi government had opposed the extension on grounds the ordinance that gives the ruling BJP control of bureaucrats posted to the national capital is still being challenged, and that the centre could not make appointments, particularly to senior posts, without consultation.

A bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud ruled a six-month extension could not be viewed as a violation of any law. The court accepted the centre’s argument – that it has the right to transfer and appoint bureaucrats in the Delhi government since its ordinance has not yet been reversed.

The centre had submitted its proposal to extend Mr Kumar’s tenure on Tuesday.

The court, however, wanted to know why the centre seemed to be “stuck with only one person”.

“You want to make the appointment, make it (but) don’t you have any officer who can be Chief Secretary…  are you stuck?” the bench, also comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said.

It was suggested Mr Kumar be allowed to superannuate and a fresh appointment be made.

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“This man is superannuating. Let this man superannuate. You make a fresh appointment,” the bench led by the Chief Justice had said, before relenting and directing the centre to return with reasons today.

“Show us the power to extend and show us what is the ground on which you want to extend…”

Last week – amid squabbles between both sides – the Supreme Court directed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena, the centre’s representative in the city, to sit down and amicably discuss a shortlist of candidates to be provided by the union government.

READ | “Why Don’t CM, LG…”: Supreme Court On Delhi Top Official Row

“So… 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 Chief Justice proposed.

This is the latest flashpoint between Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP that is in power at the centre. The two have also collided over corruption allegations surrounding Mr Kumar, whose son was linked to an alleged real estate scam in a news report published on November 9.

However, last week the Delhi High Court gave Mr Kumar relief, directing the news website to take down the article that was said to be defamatory of the current Delhi Chief Secretary.

Earlier today, Delhi Vigilance Minister Atishi submitted a report to Mr Kejriwal reiterating her recommendation that Mr Kumar be suspended. The report also urged Mr Saxena to review his position vis-a-vis his refusal to consider an earlier (preliminary) report in the matter, sources said.

READ | Delhi Minister Sends New Report To Arvind Kejriwal On Land Corruption Case

Naresh Kumar has denied any wrongdoing and alleged that people with “vested interests” – against whom vigilance action had been taken for corruption – were indulging in “mudslinging”.

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