Why 6-Month Extension To Delhi Chief Secretary? Supreme Court Asks Centre

New Delhi: The Supreme Court asked some tough questions after the Central government informed that it has decided to give Delhi’s chief secretary Naresh Kumar a six-month extension.

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With Kumar scheduled to retire on November 30, the Arvind Kejriwal-headed Delhi government approached the apex court opposing any further extension to the chief secretary and seeking a consultative exercise for the appointment of next chief secretary of the Delhi government.

The bench hearing the case, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, asked if there was no other officer eligible or competent enough to take over reins from the incumbent.

“Are you stuck with one name? Whoever you want to appoint, appoint. But is there no other IAS officer you can appoint as the chief secretary?” CJI Chandrachud asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Centre.

The query came after the bench — which also includes justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra — after the solicitor general told the bench about handing Kumar an extension for the time being, and that it could have a consultative process with the Delhi government as and when the next chief secretary is to be appointed.

The CJI-headed bench had suggested on November 24 that the Central government should propose names of five officials for the post of chief secretary, from which the Delhi government could pick any one.

Solicitor general Mehta had said that day he would revert with appropriate instructions.

On Tuesday, when the hearing resumed, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi, informed the court he hadn’t received any name from Mehta.

Mehta then informed the bench about the Centre’s extension decision of incumbent chief secretary to ensure continuity of administration.

When Mehta asserted that as per the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Act 2023, “chief secretary” means the chief secretary by the central government, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the Centre indeed has the power to appoint the chief secretary since the new law, though under challenge before the apex court, has not yet been stayed.

“So, why don’t you exercise your power under the Act and appoint a new chief secretary? You appoint any officer of your choice from the entire country? Why are you stuck with one person? Don’t you have any other IAS officer to appoint as the chief secretary of Delhi?” the CJI-headed bench asked Mehta, stressing that Kumar’s appointment was not under the new Act.

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