SC Questions Why Delhi LG And CM Cannot Confer On Names For Appointment Of Chief Secretary
The AAP government and the Centre today clashed over the issue of the appointment of the new Delhi chief secretary in the Supreme Court, which suggested that the Lieutenant Governor and the Centre propose a panel of names and the Delhi government may choose one of them for the post.
The Court asked why LG V K Saxena and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal cannot meet and amicably discuss names for the post.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice J B Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra was hearing a plea of the Delhi government against any move by the Centre to appoint, without any consultation with it, the new chief secretary or extend the tenure of the current top civil servant Naresh Kumar who, otherwise, is set to demit office on November 30.
The Delhi government has questioned how the Centre could proceed with the appointment of the chief secretary without any consultation with it while the new law is under challenge.
"Why can't the LG and the CM meet? Last time we said that for the appointment of DERC chairperson and they never agreed...," the CJI said.
The Centre-appointed LG and the Aam Aadmi Party government have been involved in a series of run-ins over various issues.
"So, why doesn't the LG and the Centre propose a panel of names? The 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 bench proposed.
At the outset, Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the Delhi government, said that the law dealing with services is under challenge before the top court and "there cannot be unilateral exercise of power by the LG".
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said the stand has always been that the chief secretary was appointed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
Singhvi said the chief secretary has been appointed on the recommendation of the chief minister.
The top law officer said, "Never. I can put this on the affidavit."
"We must have a modality in which the government functions. I am sure both of you can give us a way out," the CJI said.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the office of LG, said, "I am very sorry to say that there is a running commentary against the chief secretary and he had to approach the court against scurrilous allegations."
The bench has now posted the plea for hearing on November 28.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, notified in August, gives the Centre control over bureaucracy in the national capital and an authority was created under it for the transfer and posting of Group-A officers.
The plea alleged the 2023 Amendment Act is in violation of the 2023 Constitution Bench Judgment.
"This renders the government of NCT of Delhi a mere observer in the appointment of the most crucial member of the permanent executive, the Chief Secretary," the Delhi government said in its plea.
For effective and smooth governance, it is the state government, which enjoys the mandate of the local people, that appoints the Chief Secretary, it said.
"Accordingly, the relevant rules and regulations under the All India Services Act, 1951 vest the discretion of appointing officers of State Cadres with the state government.
"Rule 7(2) of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954 clearly stipulates that all appointments to cadre posts in a State Cadre shall be made by the state government. The rationale behind this arrangement has been repeatedly upheld by this court," the plea said.
With PTI Inputs