The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Centre to extend Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar’s tenure by six months, a day before he was set to retire, reported Live Law.
The top court passed the order against a plea by the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government challenging the extension. The order is also unprecedented as matters related to the appointment of the chief secretary have always taken place in consultation with the state government, according to Live Law.
The Delhi government had argued that it wants a fresh face as there was an “absolute breach of communication, trust and faith of any kind between the chief secretary and the Delhi government”, reported The Hindu.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Delhi government, argued that the Centre has no power to extend Kumar’s term as the All India Services Rules states that extensions are to be given by the state government, reported Bar and Bench.
“Can there be any justification in appointing a person in whom there is zero confidence by the government,” he said. “And why should that person’s post be extended?”
Singhvi proposed that a new appointment of the chief secretary be made by the chief minister and the lieutenant governor from a pool of 10 candidates.
However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government, argued that the authority to extend the tenure of chief secretaries resides with the Centre. He also said that the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2023 gave it the statutory authority over civil services in the national capital.
The law was passed in Parliament in August after the Centre promulgated an ordinance on May 19 to create the National Capital Civil Service Authority to administer the transfer and posting of bureaucrats serving the Delhi government.
The ordinance had nullified the Supreme Court verdict passed on May 11 stating that the Aam Aadmi Party government in the national capital has legislative power over bureaucrats in all departments other than public order, police and land.
Although the Supreme Court has asked a Constitution bench to examine the validity of the law, it has not been stayed.
On Wednesday, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud agreed that the Centre has the power to appoint the chief secretary of the Delhi Government under the law and it also grants them the power to extend the term of the superannuating officer.
The court said that the role of the Delhi chief secretary is distinct as the position is responsible for the three subjects – public order, police and land – that are outside the purview of the state government, reported Bar and Bench.
The bench also said that its order was limited to the prima facie nature of the case and it does not deal with the adjudication of issues pending before the Constitution bench challenging the law that controls postings and transfers of bureaucrats in Delhi.