Tamil Nadu

Governor’s secretary gets notice

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The Madras High Court on Friday ordered notice to the Secretary to Governor on a writ petition filed by the Legislative Assembly’s Additional Secretary L.S. Vasanthimalar and Joint Secretary B. Subramaniyam accusing Speaker P. Dhanapal of nepotism since he was attempting to get his special private secretary K. Srinivasan appointed as Assembly Secretary “through hook or crook.” Justice T. Raja felt the Governor’s office should also be heard in the matter since he was the appointing authority under the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Secretariat Service Rules.

The notice was ordered after hearing arguments advanced by Senior Counsel P. Wilson, representing the two writ petitioners, and Advocate General Vijay Narayan appearing on behalf of the Assembly Secretary.

In her affidavit, Ms. Vasanthimalar claimed that Assembly employees were divided into two wings — the Reporting Wing consisting of staff who record the Assembly proceedings, and the General Administrative Wing. It was her case that the two were watertight wings with no scope for shifting from one to another. She claimed that Mr. Srinivasan belonged to the reporting wing and so he could not be appointed as Assembly Secretary.

However, in the counter affidavit, the Assembly Secretary stated that there was no hard and fast rule that even the top most officer in the Reporting Wing could not be appointed as Assembly Secretary. He also pointed out that there was no express provision in the service rules prohibiting such an appointment and claimed that the writ petitioners too had admitted in their affidavit that the rules were silent on the issue.

Stating that important functions of the Assembly were looked after by the officers in the reporting wing, the Secretary said: “In other words, they are the pillars and backbone of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly. Examples galore in which Assembly Secretaries, belonging to the administrative side, had always relied more upon reporting wing with special assignments in crucial hours of crisis during special events in the legislature.”

The counter affidavit also stated that officers of the reporting wing had been suppressed for long by those belonging to the general administrative wing. It added that in many other States including Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh, those working in the reporting wing too were considered for promotion to the post of Assembly Secretary on the basis of their relative merit in comparison with officers in the administrative wing.

Further, denying allegations of the Speaker having maintained secrecy in creation of a post of Special Secretary on December 14 and appointment of Mr. Srinivasan to that post on December 20, the Assembly Secretary said Mr. Dhanapal had taken the decision at a meeting convened in his chambers on December 1 when all staff and officers of the Establishment Section were present. He also pointed out that Mr. Srinivasan was much senior in service to the two writ petitioners.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 10:04:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/governors-secretary-gets-notice/article22912884.ece

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