Counting on continuity
As this column had hinted last month, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth has indeed got a one-year extension. The appointments committee of the Cabinet has decided to extend Seth’s term in the ‘interests of continuity’ in an election year. The UPA is passing through a particularly rough phase and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh probably thought it prudent not to deal with someone new at this stage when elections are looming. But extensions to Cabinet Secretaries are really nothing new. Seth, the 1974-batch IAS officer, has become the third CS in a row to have got at least one year extension. His immediate predecessor K.M. Chandrasekhar had been given two extensions, which put paid to the ambitions of at least two hopefuls, Sudha Pillai and M. Ramachandran. In Seth’s case, sources say, there was not much competition since the decision was widely expected, though in some quarters the name of Department of Personnel and Training secretary P.K. Misra was being dropped as the proverbial dark horse, which, ultimately, turned out to be a red herring, if you will pardon the mixed metaphors!
HC rap for babus
With the judiciary in a rather unforgiving mood these days, babus in Uttar Pradesh are facing rough weather, particularly those who choose to flout court orders. Readers will recall that recently an education official D.S. Yadav was taken into custody by a court order and detained for a whole day on a contempt charge. Similarly, Principal Home Secretary R.M. Srivastava was held in custody for over three hours before being let off, after the babu apologised.
But the judiciary is clearly unwilling to relent. Last week the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, issued non-bailable warrants against 36 top babus for “disobedience and dishonour” of its orders. Sources say it is a record of sorts in the history of the State. Among those in the line of fire are Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani, Secretary to the Chief Minister; Alok Kumar, Lucknow DIG Navneet Sikera, former DGP Atul Kumar, Principal Secretary for transport B.S. Bhullar, besides others, including state service officers. These babus will now have to appear in court in custody and hope they get off lightly, for their own sake!
Relations between Maharashtra Police and the state’s politicians have been at a particularly low ebb, following the deplorable incident in which some legislators physically assaulted a police official in the state Assembly. It was clearly a turning point, though the cops have long complained of excessive political interference, especially in the matter of transfers and promotions.
Following a meeting with former Chief Secretary D.M. Sukthankar and two former police commissioners, the venerable Julio Ribeiro and S. Sawhney, the State Home Minister has agreed to restore the power to transfer police officers to the director general of police. It was again snatched back last month following a circular issued by the Home Ministry. But the ensuing uproar in the police ranks has clearly made Patil do a rethink. He, however, will need to clear it with the State Cabinet and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. But that now seems to be just a formality, say sources. Thank God, did you mutter?