Bureaucracy sees red as chief secy gets extension
Sharath Sharma Kalagaru
Posted On Sunday, June 16, 2013 at 01:03:03 AM
It appears that the government, past or present, cannot do without S V Ranganath (in pic), the chief secretary. Ranganath was due to retire at the end of the month, but in a decision that has caused much heartburn in state babudom, chief minister Siddaramaiah has decided to extend Ranganath’s services by another four months.
A letter seeking approval of the decision has been sent to the Union government. If the Union government rubber stamps the decision — highly likely as the request has come from a Congress-ruled state — it will be the second extension for the current chief secretary. Ranganath should have retired on April 30, but with assembly elections around the corner, the BJP government decided to extend his tenure by two months. In a meeting on Thursday, the state cabinet authorised the CM to pick a suitable officer as chief secretary. Armed with the authorisation, Siddaramaiah, on Friday, decided to extend Ranganath’s tenure.
The decision, however, has demoralised several senior IAS officers who have been eyeing the post. The heartburn is so severe, that at least one officer darkly hinted at going to the extent of suppressing government policies as tit for tat.
“With this extension, Ranganath will retire on October 31,” the officer of the rank of additional chief secretary told Bangalore Mirror. “Rules do not permit him to stay as chief secretary forever. After October 31, the government will have to appoint a new chief secretary. Why continue with him? Appoint a new person and set him or her a long-term agenda. By not doing so, the government has demoralised us. What will the government do if one of us decides to subvert government programmes in retaliation?"
Siddaramaiah’s decision could also be illegal. As per rules, state government, under extraordinary circumstances, can extend the tenure of an officer for a period of up to six months after retirement. “An extension means only one extension which, in Ranganath’s case, has already been given. The second extension becomes illegal,” the additional chief secretary commented. “Moreover, the Supreme Court has come down heavily on extensions. Extensions are given in rarest of rare cases. There are no rare circumstances now.”
Ranganath was appointed chief secretary by B S Yeddyurappa in September 2009. He was left undisturbed in the post during the chief ministerial tenures of D V Sadananda Gowda and Jagadish B Shettar.
Sources say Siddaramaiah had initially planned on elevating IAS officer Sudheer Krishna, a favourite of his, to the post. But Krishna is on a central deputation. He holds a key post of urban development department secretary and may not have been inclined to return to the state. The ball now is with the Union government.