The Lok Sabha Secretariat has refused to explain why Speaker Meira Kumar extended the term of Secretary-General T.K. Vishwanathan, overruling the objections of Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj.

Ms. Swaraj formally lodged a protest against the extension in a letter to the Speaker on August 30, 2011. She argued that Mr. Vishwanathan had rendered himself unfit for the job by his “conduct and manner.”

She reminded Ms. Kumar that at the time of his appointment on October 1, 2010, she asked that a person from the Secretariat be appointed to the post.

(Mr. Viswanathan retired as Law Secretary in October 2009 and was adviser to the Union Law Minister at the time of his appointment)

Said Ms. Swaraj (translated from Hindi): “At that time you had told me that there was no suitable candidate from the Lok Sabha Secretariat… and further that my view would be given due consideration [at the time of the next appointment].”

‘Didn't consult me'

Ms. Swaraj said despite this promise, Ms. Kumar did not consult her or the leader of the House while deciding to give an extension to Mr. Vishwanathan. “The Lok Sabha Secretariat has its own cadre … but you have repeatedly overlooked their claims.”

The Secretariat released Ms. Swaraj's letter in response to a Right to Information application filed by Subhash Chandra Agrawal. However, it refused to explain why Ms. Swaraj's objections were overruled citing parliamentary privilege and exemption under Section 8(1) of the RTI Act.

Under the Secretariat's “Recruitment and Conditions of Service” order, the method/mode of recruitment of the Secretary-General “would be selection by the Speaker in consultation with the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition.”