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Prevailing tension between the Centre and the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh heightened once again on Monday after the Union government virtually passed strictures against the state's decision to create the post of cabinet secretary in the state.
In an affidavit filed before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, by Chaitanya Prasad, director (services) in the Centre's department of personnel and training, the Centre in no uncertain terms disapproved not only the creation of a post of cabinet secretary but also the appointment of a non-IAS bureaucrat Sheshank Shekhar Singh to the coveted job.
The issue came up in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) moved by a local lawyer Shiv Prakash Shukla, with a veiled backing of a powerful IAS lobby.
"It is quite clear that the UP government treats the newly created post of cabinet secretary of the state as equivalent to or at least in all respects similar to the cabinet secretary of the central government and that the importance and functions of the post of chief secretary in the state have been substantially marginalized. This gives rise to the question as to whether the creation of the non-cadre post of cabinet secretary in the state is legally valid and within the Constitutional framework of the system of governance of the state," said the 17-page affidavit.
It relied extensively on a speech delivered by Sardar Vallabhai Patel at the Premier's Conference in October 1946 ,wherein he had mooted the philosophy behind creation of the two premier all
"The newly created post of cabinet secretary has overshadowed and undermined the post of chief secretary in the state," it stated, while emphasising, "the same is contrary to the Constitutional scheme and the statutory provisions."
Referring to the status of a cabinet minister accorded to Shashank Shekhar Singh in his dual capacity as vice chairman of the state planning commission, the Centre held the view "this arrangement has removed the distinction between the political executive and the permanent bureaucracy".
The Centre also clearly disapproved of the special pay granted to Singh as cabinet secretary.
"It has also created an anomalous situation and the entire administrative structure of the state has been disturbed by the creation of a post of cabinet secretary on a pay of Rs 30,000 which is even higher to the maximum pay scale allowed to an IAS officer in the state i.e. Rs, 26,000 (fixed)."
Questioning the freedom of the states to create any ex-cadre position at the highest bureaucratic levels, the 17-page affidavit observed, "Such an action may act as precedent for all other states and may be replicated by them, rendering the All India Service redundant and this will adversely affect the unitary backbone of the administration and governance of a federal country."
Evidently, to pre-empt the obvious complications likely to arise on account of such a view of the Central government, Shashank Shekhar Singh himself relinquished the status of cabinet minister and also chose to shed the powers of chief secretary that were conferred on him through an amendment in the rules of business of the state secretariat shortly after Mayawati assumed office in May 2007.
Suitable amendments have once again been made in the rules of business now through separate notifications issued on Saturday.
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