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MHA orders extension of service for Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar

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New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday issued an official order approving the extension of service for Naresh Kumar, an IAS officer of AGMUT cadre, currently serving as the Chief Secretary of Delhi.

The competent authority has granted approval for the extension, allowing Kumar to continue in his role as Chief Secretary for an additional period of six months.

The extension is effective from December 1, 2023 to May 31, 2024, in accordance with Rule 16(1) of the All India Services (Death Cum Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1953.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had held that the Centre has the power to extend Kumar’s service for a period of six months.

“We have come to the conclusion that at this stage, the decision of the Union government to extend the service of incumbent Chief Secretary for a period of six months cannot be construed to be violative of law or constitutional distribution of power between the Centre and the government of NCT of Delhi,” noted a bench presided over by CJI D.Y. Chandrachud.

The bench, also comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, clarified that its analysis is limited to the “prima facie evaluation of the case at the present stage” without entering into any conclusive determination of the issues, which are pending for adjudication before the Constitution Bench.

It reasoned that the post of Chief Secretary is entrusted with significant functional responsibilities, including overall administration of land, police and public order – subjects which stand excluded from legislative and executive domain of the government of NCT of Delhi.

The bench also referred to Rule 55(2) of the Transaction of Business of the Government of NCT Delhi Rules, 1993, which requires that the Lieutenant Governor must make a prior reference to the Central government for appointment of Chief Secretary, Commissioner of Police, and Secretary of Home and Land.

It added that the recent Supreme Court judgement had given control over ‘services’ to the elected government except for land, police and public order and the Delhi government’s plea against the contentious law giving the L-G an upper hand in matters related to transfers and postings of senior officials is pending before a five-judge Constitution Bench.

The top court said that prima facie it will be “far-fetched” to postulate that the Centre is divested with the power to appoint the Chief Secretary of Delhi in view of the provisions contained under Section 45A (d) of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2023.

The plea filed by Delhi government had pleaded that it was always 'exclusively' the elected government which appointed the Chief Secretary.

In an earlier hearing, the Supreme Court, in a bid to give a “workable solution”, had asked the Union government to give a list of five senior bureaucrats and the Delhi government may "pick one name" out of those suggested by the Centre.

It had said that doing so would meet the "concerns of the Union government" and at the same time "foster a degree of confidence in the officer in the elected arm of the state".

--IANS

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