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A little twist in the tale of appointments of PS & OSDs to Ministers

By IndianMandarins- 08 Jun 2019
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Soon after issuing notification, on Friday, to extend the tenure of service of Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha the NaMo administration 2.0 further cleared the decks by issuing the appointment orders for PS to three important Union Cabinet Ministers -- Amit Anilchandra Shah, Smriti Zubin Irani and Dr Jitendra Singh (see weblink for appointees).

 

These appointment orders clearly lay down the tenure of PS. The clause relevant in this respect has a catch. And this lies in the riposte: “….balance period of five years as PS to a minister”.

 

So what stands to be clear now is that five years would be the maximum time limit for an officer to serve as PS to Minister or Ministers put together, though the orders also read "...or on co-terminus basis with the minister...".

 

The rider, thus, out is all the more important when viewed against the fact that Imkongla Jamir (PS to Ms Irani), Ashish Kumar (PS to Dr Jitendra) and Saket Kumar (PS to Shah) would be able to continue in their current role till July 2020, August 2021 and July 2023 respectively.

 

So unlike in 2014, this time the Modi Govt has decided to not put a bar on officers to check them from becoming PS/OSD to Ministers twice.

 

The Govt’s decision in 2014 had put a deterrent on officers in view of the issue of loyalty.  But in 2019 it has recognised the need for continuity and cohesion in administration besides honouring Minister’s will and choice vis-à-vis the selection of an officer of his choice for the post of his or her Private Secretary.

 

And since the three ministers have been PM’s choicest ones, they got PS according to their choice and preference. But what yet remains to be seen is whether the choice and preference for PS/OSD is honoured in case of other Ministers too, or the process going to be tweaked further?

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