State files appeal in Chief Principal Secretary case

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Chandigarh, February 10: Claiming appointment of any person as staff officer to assist him was the Chief Minister’s prerogative, the Punjab Government today moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for setting aside the Single-Bench judgment quashing the appointment of retired IAS officer Suresh Kumar as Chief Principal Secretary to the CM.

Dubbing the verdict as contrary to the facts on record and against well-settled principles of law, it said it had the powers to assign duties to an appointee. The appeal filed by Punjab, through its Chief Secretary and the Department of General Administration, is expected to come up for hearing next week.

The appeal stated that Suresh Kumar neither took a decision, nor recorded any. Only the decisions taken by the CM were recorded on the file. “Hence, the findings recorded by the court that the standing order and the appointment order made the respondent virtually the Chief Minister was contrary to the factual matrix”.

Suresh Kumar has been arrayed as a respondent in the appeal “settled” through Punjab Advocate-General Atul Nanda, thereby putting to rest speculation that a section of the government was nursing a grouse that the matter before the Single Judge was not defended properly.

The state claimed its clear-cut stand in the written arguments was that Kumar was not passing any order on any file, which was being done by the CM. The High Court’s observation that Kumar had the power to pass an order in CM’s absence was factually incorrect. The state asserted that the Bench had not spelled out the basis for recording that Cabinet Secretary’s powers and rank could not be given to a contractual employee and allowing him powers in the absence of the CM could not be justified.

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