Minister can even appoint paanwala as secretary: HC

Delhi high court
New Delhi, Nov 12: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said that the challenge to Centre's circular on appointment of secretaries by NDA ministers cannot be entertained as PIL and "a minister can even appoint a paanwala" if he wants.

A bench of justices B D Ahmed and S Mridul directed the counsel for petitioner NGO Society for Voice of Human Rights and Justice to seek instructions and posted the matter for hearing on November 18. "A minister can even appoint a paanwala as his secretary. This is not a post which is advertised. He may even opt for no secretary at all.

Where is the right for consideration? "There is no public injury in the case and hence this cannot be considered a PIL. It is a service matter. Prima facie, it is covered under the CAT Act. It has to be heard by the tribunal," the bench said.

The high court also said that anybody, who is aggrieved, can file the petition. "You are looking at the circular from very narrow point of view. There should be some person who is aggrieved. Let him (bureaucrat) come. Why are you shying away from approaching the CAT?," it said.

The counsel for NGO, however, said "there is a specific exclusion provided in the notification. This is an attempt to politicise the bureaucracy." The Narendra Modi government had on June 19 issued a circular that a person, who had been attached as a personal office staff with Union minister for last 10 years, be not appointed by NDA ministers.

Later, DoPT clarified that the circular was applicable to OSDs and Secretaries and not to junior office staffers. The court was hearing a PIL filed by Society for Voice of Human Rights and Justice challenging the June 19 circular.


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