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Punjab

Capt rejects resignation, asks Suresh Kumar to resume work

July 25, 2020 07:17 AM

COURTESY HT JULY 25

Capt rejects resignation, asks Suresh Kumar to resume work
GROUSE DOUSE:  Chief principal secretary to CM has been sore over govt not ’defending’ his appointment order strongly, may join office on Monday after meeting Capt Amarinder Singh

Retired 1983-batch IAS officer, Suresh Kumar was handpicked by Amarinder for the coveted assignment in March 2017. HT FILE
HT Correspondent

letterschd@hindustantimes.com

Chandigarh : Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Friday turned down the resignation of his chief principal secretary Suresh Kumar, asking him to return to work.

The CM’s decision was conveyed to Kumar by chief secretary Vini Mahajan. The chief secretary wrote to Kumar, informing him that the resignation has not been accepted by the chief minister and he is requested to continue as such, according to sources. The chief secretary’s letter was in response to Kumar’s resignation and letter relinquishing charge on July 15.

He will meet the chief minister on Monday and is likely to get back to work thereafter, they said. Mahajan declined to speak on the matter.

The chief principal secretary, who has been upset over the government not defending his appointment strongly in a high court case, stopped attending to official work last week. He was neither attending any official meetings nor accepting files. On Monday, he even relieved his personal staff and sent back his official vehicles.

Though there was speculation after he met with the chief minister on Wednesday that he would return to work, Kumar appeared to dig his heels in on the court case challenging his appointment as the chief minister’s topmost aide.

Kumar has been sore with the advocate general’s office for quite some time for not “defending” the appointment order strongly and not pushing the case for an early decision.

He has made no secret of his unhappiness over the Damocles’ sword hanging over his head for the past 40 months due to the court case even though similar post-retirement appointments have been made in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and several states across the country.

Kumar, who has tendered his resignation from the post thrice earlier over this issue, left his charge this time as no one from the state’s legal team was present in the high court for the case when it was listed for hearing on July 15.

As per the protocol put in place by the high court in the view of the Covid-19 outbreak, an application is to be filed by either of the parties if an urgent hearing is required in pending cases. No application was moved by the state’s legal team or the petitioner for urgent hearing, and the case was not taken up. It is now listed for September 14.

When contacted, AG Atul Nanda refused to comment. However, sources in the AG’s office said most of the adjournments in the matter have been taken by Ramandeep Singh, and not the state of Punjab), or taken up by arguments by the original petitioner on May 16, November 13, (2018) and February 13 (2019). The case was adjourned by the high court for the paucity of time on July 11, October 16 (2018), January 10, and May 23 (2019).

Sources said the only times when the state was required to seek an adjournment was on March 26, 2019, for filing of a reply to an application and then on April 17, 2018, and May 23, 2019, for non-availability of senior advocate P Chidambaram.

“During the last effective hearing, the matter was adjourned to February 21, 2020, which was later declared as a public holiday by the high court on account of Mahashivratri and hence had to be adjourned when the matter got auto listed on February 24”.

The state went into lockdown thereafter, the high court was closed and only fresh urgent cases filed were being heard by the high court through video-conferencing.

A retired 1983-batch IAS officer, Kumar was handpicked by Amarinder for the coveted assignment in March 2017. His induction was challenged on August 4, 2017, in Punjab and Haryana high court, and a single-judge bench, in its order on January 17, 2018, quashed the appointment.

The state government filed a Letter Patents Appeal (LPA) and the single-bench’s order was stayed by a division bench on February 14, 2018.

 

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