The Charanjit Singh Channi-led government in Punjab Thursday appointed Anirudh Tewari as Chief Secretary, replacing Vini Mahajan – the first woman to hold the post in state.
Besides, the government is learnt to have finalised the name of Senior Advocate Deepinder Singh Patwalia for the post of advocate general of Punjab, which is lying vacant after Atul Nanda resigned folowing the unceremonious exit of Amarinder Singh. However, an official order is awaited.
By appointing Tewari, a 1990-batch IAS officer posted as the Additional Chief Secretary Agriculture and Development, on the top bureaucratic post, the government has overlooked five IAS officers senior than him. They include Ravneet Kaur, Sanjay Kumar, Anjali Bhawra (on central deputation), Vijay Kumar Janjua, and Kripa Shankar Saroj. Tewari will retire in 2027.
While government was yet to issue fresh posting for Mahajan, according to a government order she Mahajan, Ravneet Kaur, Sanjay Kumar, Janjua and Kripa Shankar have been designated as special chief secretaries with immediate effect.
Earlier the government was considering Ravneet Kaur, a 1988-batch IAS officer, for the post of Chief Secretary. She was asked to attend the first Cabinet meeting of the new government even as it was chaired by the Mahajan who had been appointed the chief secretary last year and considered close to former CM Capt Amarinder Singh. However, on Wednesday late night, Channi is learnt to have met Tewari and told him that he would be the next CS. The formal orders came at around noon on Thursday.
After the change of guard, it was certain that the top bureaucrats of the state would be replaced. Soon after taking charge, the new government had started looking for a “tough” officer who could take action as it wants to seriously review the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) signed by the previous SAD-BJP government and take strong action in Bargari sacrilege, Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura firing cases.
According to the orders issued by the state government, Tewari would also be the Principal Secretary Personnel and Vigilance besides Financial Commissioner Development, Principal Secretary Food Processing, Principal Secretary Horticulture, and Principal Secretary Governance Reforms & Public Grievances.
Tewari has served in various capacities in the state as well as in the central government. He had also served as the ACS, power, new and renewable energy sources, and principal secretary, finance, planning, industries and commerce. Tewari had also worked as the director in the Department of Economic Affairs, Government of India, and the country coordinator for International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an agency of the United Nations.
He stepped into his new role on the back of an impressive track record, a government statement said. While interacting with senior state officers after taking over, Tewari said he would deliver as a team to achieve all tasks in different fields and strive hard to fulfil the state mission for holistic development.
In an informal meeting, Punjab IAS Officers Association welcomed the new Chief Secretary.
Patwalia, who is expected to be the new Punjab AG, is the son of former Supreme Court judge, Justice Kuldeep Singh. His mother Gurminder Kaur retired as principal of Government College For Women, Mohali.
An alumnus of St Johns High School, Chandigarh; DPS, New Delhi and St Stephens College, Patwalia had obtained LLB degree from Panjab University in 1998 and was designated as Senior Advocate in May 2014. he had been practising in the Supreme Court, High Courts of Punjab and Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh.
Patwalia, who has specialized in cyber laws and intellectual property rights service matters, had also been Standing Counsel and Legal Adviser for Punjab Pollution Control Board, and counsel for GNDU, Amritsar, and other Punjab departments.
He was on the panel of the official liquidator attached with the Punjab and Haryana High Court.