Fresh questions raised on cabinet secretary post

March 3rd, 2008 - 7:08 pm ICT by admin  

Lucknow, March 3 (IANS) The central government Monday questioned the creation of the high profile post of cabinet secretary in Uttar Pradesh. This was stated in an affidavit filed before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, on behalf of the central government by Chaitanya Prasad, director (services) in the department of personnel and training.

The matter pertains to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) pending before the bench against the creation of that post and the appointment of a non-IAS (Indian Administrative Service) cadre officer Shashank Shekhar Singh to that position.

The PIL as moved by a lawyer, Shiv Prakash Shukla, who enjoys the obvious backing of a powerful IAS lobby vehemently opposed to a non-IAS cadre officer to the prized job.

The affidavit points out: “It is quite clear that the government of Uttar Pradesh treats the newly created post of cabinet secretary of the state as equivalent to or at least in all respects similar to the cabinet secretary of the central government and that the importance and functions of the post of chief secretary in the state have been substantially marginalized.

“This gives rise to the question as to whether the creation of the non-cadre post of cabinet secretary in the state is legally valid and within the constitutional framework of the system of governance of the state.”

Citing exhaustively from a speech delivered by Sardar Vallabhai Patel in October 1946 highlighting the idea behind the creation of the IAS and Indian Police Service (IPS), the affidavit stated: “The newly created post of cabinet secretary has overshadowed and undermined the post of chief secretary in the state.”

It went on to add: “The same is contrary to the constitutional scheme and the statutory provisions.”

Raising objections against the pay scale allocated to the cabinet secretary in Uttar Pradesh, the affidavit argued: “It has also created an anomalous situation and the entire administrative structure of the state has been disturbed by the creation of a post of pay of Rs.30,000 which is even higher (than) the maximum pay scale allowed to an IAS officer in the state - Rs.26,000 (fixed).”

Furthermore, the central government also objected to the additional status of a cabinet minister being given to Shashank Shekhar Singh in his dual capacity as vice chairman of the state planning commission.

“This arrangement has removed the distinction between the political executive and the permanent bureaucracy.”

Questioning the freedom of the states to create any ex-cadre position at the highest bureaucratic levels, the 17-page affidavit observed: “Such an action may act as precedent for all other states and may be replicated by them, rendering the All India Service redundant. This will adversely affect the unitary backbone of the administration and governance of a federal country.”

On Saturday, Shashank Shekhar Singh relinquished the status of cabinet minister and chose to shed the powers of chief secretary that were conferred on him through a special order shortly after Mayawati assumed office last year.

Separate notifications to that effect were formally issued under the orders of the cabinet secretary as well as the chief secretary Saturday.

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