On Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued a directive to extend the tenure of Delhi\’s chief secretary, Naresh Kumar, by an additional six months.
This move came after the Supreme Court granted approval, empowering the central government to prolong Naresh Kumar\’s service by six months, given his initial retirement date of November 30.
The Supreme Court affirmed the central government\’s authority to appoint the chief secretary of Delhi, including the prerogative to extend the term of a retiring officer. However, the court clarified that its stance is provisional, pending further deliberation by a Constitution bench regarding the validity of the Centre\’s Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, enacted in August.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government expressed dissent over the central government\’s decision to extend Naresh Kumar\’s term as Delhi\’s chief secretary.
In its order, the Supreme Court articulated, \”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.\”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, asserted that Delhi is the capital of the nation, and the central government believes Naresh Kumar should continue for six months. He added that rules prohibit an extension beyond six months.
During the hearing, the central government informed the Supreme Court that chief secretaries\’ tenures have been extended 57 times in the last 10 years.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Delhi government, argued that the chief secretary handles numerous matters within the exclusive domain of the Delhi government, emphasizing the AAP government\’s right to participate in the appointment process.