Rajiv Takru, a 1979-batch IAS officer, who served as Secretary, Department of North Eastern Region (DoNER), for about 105 days, had a series of run-ins with General (retired) V K Singh, Minister of State (Independent charge), DoNER, before his transfer to the National Commission for Minorities.
V K Singh, Minister of State (Independent charge), DoNER, before his transfer to the National Commission for Minorities.
Takru’s battle with the minister commenced soon after he joined DoNER over Singh’s reluctance to take note of and act upon “improper” appointments and over direct routing of files by the minister to junior officers and vice versa without keeping the Secretary in the loop. Takru, who took charge at DoNER on June 16, relinquished charge on Tuesday.
A perusal of the exchange of notes between the two reveals that Takru first advised Singh on June 23 (a week after he joined) in writing that the “informal arrangement” — appointment of a Private Secretary (PS) of the minister’s choice — was “improper” and “must cease”. In response to an August 25 note by the minister, Takru further stated that Singh’s office was yet to acknowledge the concerns raised by him. The PS being referred to is Dr Rajesh Kumar, a 1997-batch IPS officer who earlier worked in the personal staff of Minister of Culture in UPA-II Chandresh Kumari Katoch.
In response to an August 25 note by the minister, Takru further stated that Singh’s office was yet to acknowledge the concerns raised by him. The PS being referred to is Dr Rajesh Kumar, a 1997-batch IPS officer who earlier worked in the personal staff of Minister of Culture in UPA-II Chandresh Kumari Katoch.
The exchange of communication, accessed by The Indian Express, shows that Takru had informed the minister on June 23-24 about the “existing instructions of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) regarding appointment of staff for newly-appointed ministers”. A temporary PS was appointed on May 26 in accordance with the DoPT guidelines. This order was, however, withdrawn on May 29 because, according to Takru’s note, “the then Secretary was told that the MoS had his own arrangement in place. So there was an informal arrangement working in the MoS office not because of departmental default but because of conscious decision.”
The exchanges show Takru countered Singh, saying the issues raised by him were neither “frivolous” nor an attempt to divert from the “core issues”. He rejected the suggestion that he was “disrespectful” to the minister or that the office of MoS was “redundant”. His earlier note to the minister actually pointed to four other officers/ staff members, who fall in the same category as Dr Rajesh Kumar — their names are not available.
When contacted by The Indian Express, Takru said, “This is part of normal government functioning. These are official things. I would not like to discuss these things in media. I would not like to say or comment anything on it.”
Singh, on his part, said, “I do not discuss office issues and correspondences.”
According to Takru’s note to the minister, files relating to a number of subjects were routed directly from Joint Secretaries to the MoS and vice versa “as per instructions of the MoS”. This, he pointed out, resulted in proposals not being administratively vetted, leading to situations where rules did not permit “what has been ordered in the name of the MoS”.
“As per the manual of office procedure, it is the duty of the Secretary to advise the minister and it is the privilege of the MoS to take a decision as deemed appropriate within the ambit of law. With due respect, the present arrangements does not permit this in our ministry,” the Secretary wrote in his note.
Takru, who belongs to the Gujarat cadre, was moved from the Finance Ministry to DoNER on June 15 this year. Last week, he was transferred to the National Minorities Commission.