Decks cleared for Cabinet Secretary's extension

NEW DELHI, JULY 6. The Vajpayee Government has finally notified the change in the rules which would permit it to grant an extension of service to the incumbent Cabinet Secretary, Mr. T.R. Prasad, who was to otherwise retire on July 31.

The notification dated July 4 has been gazetted and it recasts Rule 56 of the Fundamental Rules. The revised rule reads: ``Provided also that the Central Government may, if considered necessary in public interest so to do, give extension in service to the Cabinet Secretary in the Central Government for such period as it may deem proper, subject to the condition that the total term of the incumbent of the post of the Cabinet secretary, who is given such extension in service, does not exceed two years.''

The revised rule gives the Government enormous discretion to dole out extension in driblets. In any case, the proposed extension has caused widespread resentment within the bureaucracy, as it amounts to changing the rules of the game in the third quarter.

Traditionally, the Government announces a month in advance its choice of the next cabinet secretary; since there has been no such announcement so far, the assumption is that the rule has been changed only to accommodate Mr. Prasad.