Two days after chief principal secretary to chief minister, Suresh Kumar, cleared his office of all files and documents fueling speculation that he was quitting, mystery continued on whether he would continue in his office or not.
Though Chief Minister Amarinder Singh returned to Chandigarh from Delhi Friday, the duo could not meet to discuss the issue. Kumar was in Ludhiana to address a seminar at Punjab Agriculture University.
Sources close to CM said the duo would be meeting around noon Saturday. They said Kumar was yet to submit his resignation and the decision on his future with Punjab government would be taken during the meeting.
Kumar had cleared his office in the CMO of all files and documents Wednesday, a day after returning from Delhi. He was with CM in Delhi for two days. He stayed away from his office on Thursday an Friday.
A close aide of the CM, on anonymity, claimed that Amarinder Singh was not aware that Kumar would be vacating the office “The CM learnt about it from newspapers only,” the aide said.
The aide added that the CM was briefed about the case challenging Kumar’s appointment that had come up for hearing in Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday and was adjourned to November 18. “Advocate General Atul Nanda was in Delhi in connection with the SYL case in Supreme Court. On the other hand, Congress leader P Chidambaram, who was appearing for Kumar at the instance of the Punjab government, was in CBI remand in the INX Media corruption case. Under these circumstances, the state government was not able to argue against the the long adjournment,” the aide said.
Further clarifying the government’s stand on the issue, the aide said that it was a known fact that the CM values Kumar and wants him as his CPS. “So why would the government not watch CM’s interest,” the aide asked.
Sources close to Kumar said that he was miffed at the long adjournment and the government not being able to argue against it. Kumar, a retired IAS officer, enjoys total confidence of Amarinder and was appointed as CPS to CM soon after the Congress government took over in the state. His appointment was, however, challenged in the high court and a single bench of HC had set it aside. The CM had then directed the AG to challenge the single bench’s verdict in front of a division bench.
The division bench in Gebruary 2018 had stayed the single bench verdict with the interim order saying that “since the learned Single Judge who dealt with the matter was not bestowed with the subject roster, the judgment in these circumstances could possibly be construed as coram non judice”. Since then, the government has already advanced its main arguments in the appeal.
The division bench hearing the case is headed by Chief Justice Krishna Murari. Justice Murari was recently recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court. In case the Centre notifies Justice Murari’s appointment soon, it is likely that there will be more delay in adjudication of the case as a new bench will have to hear the matter from the scratch.