Central government to challenge Mayawati move in court

March 2nd, 2008 - 8:42 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) The central government is set to formally challenge in court Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s May 2007 decision to appoint her close bureaucratic aide Shashank Sekhar Singh as the state’s cabinet secretary. Ironically, the central government is to file the affidavit only after Mayawati Saturday announced in the state assembly that Singh had given up his charge.

In an affidavit to be filed Monday before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, the central government is to contend that Singh’s appointment as the administrative head of the state does not have the legal and constitutional backing.

The affidavit argues that the appointment would set a “wrong precedent”, liable to be exploited by other state governments to accommodate their political sympathizers in crucial administrative position, sources in the law ministry and the department of personnel and training told IANS Sunday.

This would, in turn, deprive the government’s bureaucracy of its impartial character, the sources said, quoting from the affidavit.

Contending that Singh’s appointment as cabinet secretary in the state government violates the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) cadre rules, the affidavit has pointed out that that a non-IAS person cannot be appointed on the posts legally mandated for IAS officers.

The sources said the affidavit also contends that Singh’s appointment as Uttar Pradesh cabinet secretary violates the 1975 Transaction of Business Rules of the state government.

The affidavit would also seek the court’s direction to legally invalidate the May 2007 changes in the 1975 Transaction of Business Rules, which were made to appoint Singh to the post.

The central government’s affidavit is in response to the court’s notice on a public interest litigation (PIL) objecting to Singh’s access to all confidential files of the government, his power to examine proposals of ministers, review decisions taken by the previous government and call for any file marked to Mayawati.

Objecting to Singh’s wide-ranging administrative powers, matching those of the state’s chief secretary, the PIL also demanded the court’s direction to annul Singh’s appointment.

Besides the state government, the PIL had also named the central government as a party to the petition as it involved the IAS cadre’s rights.

In a statement made in the state assembly Saturday, Mayawati said she was accepting Singh’s letter divesting himself of the charge of being the “administrative head” that carried cabinet minister rank.

Singh, a trained airline pilot who still manages to find time to fly, will, however, continue to function as the cabinet secretary and will still wield the delegated authority of the chief minister in all administrative matters.

Owing to this provision, the officials in the law ministry and the department of personnel and training remained sceptical as to how Mayawati’s move would address the legal issues raised in the petition.

“If he continues to enjoy the delegated authority of the state’s chief minister, he might still be able to examine confidential official files of the government,” said an official.

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