The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Central government to extend the tenure of Delhi's incumbent Chief Secretary, Naresh Kumar, who was scheduled to retire on November 30, by six months.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra held that the central government has the power to appoint the Chief Secretary of Delhi and that such power includes the power to extend the term of the superannuating officer.
The bench, however, clarified that its views are prima facie in nature, subject to the adjudication by the Constitution bench on the validity of the Centre's Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, notified in August.
The Delhi government has objected to the Centre's decision to extend Kumar's term as the Chief Secretary of the national capital.
The apex court pointed out that three subjects are constitutionally excluded from the powers of the Delhi government- public order, police and land, and the Chief Secretary has to deal with these excluded matters as well.
"It would not be possible or feasible to divide the functions of the Chief Secretary and bifurcate the domain which falls under GNCTD and lies outside... Once it emerges that the Chief Secretary performs important functions related to excluded subjects as well... it will be far fetched to postulate that the centre is divested to appoint the Chief Secretary. We clarify that this is on the prima facie evaluation of the matter," the apex court said in its order.
During the hearing, the central government told the Supreme Court that it has the power to extend the tenure of the Chief Secretary by six months. There are 57 instances of the extension of the tenure of chief secretaries, it said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said Delhi is the capital of the nation and the Central government is of the view that Naresh Kumar should continue for six months. Rules do not permit more than six months, Mehta said.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Delhi government, argued that the Chief Secretary is dealing with a hundred other matters which are within the exclusive domain of the Delhi government, and hence, the AAP government should have a voice in the appointment.
The apex court was hearing a plea filed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government against the Centre for extending the tenure of the current Delhi Chief Secretary, Naresh Kumar-- or appoint a new official.
Yesterday, as the Central government said it intends to extend the tenure of Kumar, the bench asked why it was stuck on one person as the Chief Secretary to the Delhi government and asked it to show its power and grounds for the extension of the tenure of the Chief Secretary.
The plea of the Delhi government objected to any move by the Centre to appoint, without any consultation with it, the new Chief Secretary or extend the tenure of Kumar.
The Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, notified in August, gives the Centre control over bureaucracy in Delhi and an authority was created under it for the transfer and posting of Group-A officers.
The plea alleges the 2023 Amendment Act is in violation of the 2023 Constitution bench judgement, which renders the Delhi government a mere observer in the appointment of the most crucial member of the permanent executive, the Chief Secretary. (ANI)