Many bureaucrats who are working as private secretaries (PS) to ministers and whose appointments are being reviewed by the PMO have been put on compulsory wait, as per a DoPT order dated June 10. However, some of them continue to work for ministers and occupy offices.
Officers put on compulsory wait but still attending office include Vinita Srivastava, PS to HRD Minister Smriti Irani, Abhinav Kumar, PS to MoS Kiren Rijiju, Vikramjit Singh, PS to MoS Jitendra Singh, and Rajesh Kumar, attached to MoS V K Singh. Officers on compulsory wait are officially not posted anywhere and not entitled to any room. Moreover, they cannot discharge official duties.
Appointments of six private secretaries were put on hold after the government felt the need to review cases of officers who were attached to UPA ministers and are now being sought by NDA ministers.
The PMO decision to review PS appointments was done on the advice of Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth who cited a 2010 DoPT order.
Officials said Seth sent an e-mail last week to Principal Secretary (PMO) Nripendra Mishra, highlighting the issue.
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In the email, Seth is learnt to have told Mishra that “though he (in capacity as cabinet secretary) was empowered to take a decision on the subject (of appointment of personal secretaries who have completed five years), he would like to bring the matter to the notice of the PMO who would like to review the case”. Following this, the appointments were put on hold.
Citing the 2010 order, Seth apprised the PMO that any officer could serve as a PS only for five years. “Appointments to the post of PS to ministers, MoS, and deputy ministers should not be above the rank of director (pay scale Rs 4,500-5,700). A PS’s tenure would be five years or until he ceases to be a PS, whichever is earlier,” the order says.
A senior official, however, said, “The cabinet secretary himself got an extension of six months recently. If the decision has been taken as these officials served former UPA minister, then it puts a question mark on the entire bureaucracy.”