In a surprise move, outgoing Finance Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, who was due to retire on Monday, was appointed Union Home Secretary, replacing L C Goyal who had completed only around seven months of a fixed tenure of two years at the job.
While the government said it had accepted Goyal’s request for voluntary retirement, an official statement on Monday evening said the Prime Minister has approved his appointment as chairman and managing director of India Trade Promotion Organization.
Goyal, a 1979-batch Kerala-cadre IAS officer who was initially set to retire in May as Rural Development Secretary, was appointed Home Secretary on February 5, taking over from Anil Goswami who was asked to resign following allegations that he attempted to stall the CBI’s arrest of former Union minister Matang Sinh in the Saradha scam probe.
Sources said one of the reasons for Goyal’s exit could be the alleged differences that had arisen between him and the PMO over the Naga peace deal sealed last month.
Sources said that Goyal had expressed his displeasure at being kept out of the loop on the details of the agreement reached between the government and the NSCN (IM), despite interlocutor R N Ravi being a Home Ministry appointee, and had offered to put in his papers then.
Besides, sources said, Goyal’s hard stance on the denial of security clearance to 33 TV channels and 5 radio channels under the Sun Group had allegedly led to a stand-off with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which had been pressing the Home Ministry to reconsider its position.
Goyal, however, said he had sought voluntary retirement for “personal reasons” and that any other reason being cited was “factually incorrect”.
Meanwhile, Mehrishi, a 1978-batch Rajasthan cadre officer who was serving as Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs under the Finance Ministry, has become the third Home Secretary appointed by the Central government in 15 months.
He took charge as the new Home Secretary at his North Block office on Monday evening.
The announcement of Mehrishi’s appointment came from the PMO, which released a statement that the PM “has also approved the request” of Goyal, “seeking voluntary retirement from Government service due to personal reasons with immediate effect”.
Another government release stated that the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) approved the acceptance of Goyal’s request for voluntarily retiring from service with immediate effect by waiving the notice period.
The ACC also approved the appointment of Mehrishi as Home Secretary for a period of two years from the date of taking charge, the release added.