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Rediff.com  » News » Modi moves ordinance to get secretary of his choice

Modi moves ordinance to get secretary of his choice

May 29, 2014 00:52 IST

It is significant that Modi, who speaks of introducing a new kind of governance, decided to amend the law to accommodate one person, when the law was made to ensure that bureaucrats do not use their connections to seek out lucrative postings. Rediff.com contributor Renu Mittal reports.

The Narendra Modi government on Wednesday promulgated an ordinance for Nripendra Mishra to be appointed principal secretary to the prime minister.

Prime Minister Modi brought in an ordinance to circumvent a section in the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act that would have barred the former TRAI chairman from taking up the assignment.

Misra was already functioning as the principal secretary to Modi even though his appointment was only announced on Wednesday.

According to an order issued by the ministry of personnel, the appointment of the 1967 batch retired Indian Administrative Service officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre will be co-terminus with the term of the prime minister or till further orders.

Misra, 69, who has served in various capacities in the government, retired as chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in 2009.

It is significant that Modi, who speaks of introducing a new kind of governance, decided to amend the law to accommodate one person, when the law was made to ensure that bureaucrats do not use their connections to seek out lucrative postings.

The TRAI Act prohibits its chairman and members from taking up any other job in the central or state governments after demitting office.

'The Chairperson or any other member ceasing to hold office as such, shall -- (a) be ineligible for further employment under the Central government or any state government or (b) not accept any commercial employment, for a period of two years from the date he ceases to hold such office,' says the TRAI Act of 1997 available on the law ministry's Web site.

Wednesday's ordinance amends this section to read as: 'The Chairperson and the whole-time members shall not, for a period of two years from the date on which they cease to hold office as such, except with the previous approval of the Central government, accept -- (a) any employment either under the Central government or under any state government; or (b) any appointment in any company in the business of telecommunication service.'

Under Misra's chairmanship, TRAI had recommended in August 2007 that spectrum be auctioned.

After the 2G spectrum scam broke out, Misra had deposed as a prosecution witness before a Delhi court hearing a matter in which former telecom minister A Raja was an accused.

Misra will succeed Pulok Chatterjee, principal secretary to Dr Manmohan Singh.

The principal secretary to the prime minister coordinates among the Prime Minister's Office, the Cabinet secretariat and secretaries of ministries.

In the notification issued by the President's office, Prime Minister Modi's portfolios include amongst other things, 'all important policy decisions'.

Prime Minister Modi did not think he needed to seek the Cabinet's approval for bringing in such an ordinance.

Clearly, he has mandated himself the task of taking all key policy decisions.

Image: Nripendra Mishra, principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi