Cabinet Secretary Current Affairs - 2019
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The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended service of Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha for a further period of three months.
This was third extension given to IAS officer Sinha, whose tenure was increased by one-year each in 2017 and 2018. This exceeds term of four year cap for total term of Cabinet Secretary mandated under All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement-Benefits) Rules, 1958. However, to allow extension of PK Sinha’s beyond four year term Government has amended these rules.
It has inserted subrule 1A under rule 16 of All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement-Benefits) Rules, 1958. It provides that Central Government may in public interest give an extension in service for a further period, not exceeding three months, beyond the period of four years to the Cabinet Secretary.
About Cabinet Secretariat
- It functions directly under the Prime Minister. It is allocated business under Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961. It provides Secretarial assistance to Cabinet and Cabinet Committees and Rules of Business. Cabinet Secretary is administrative head of Cabinet Secretariat.
- Functions: (i) It is responsible for administration of Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 and Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961. Thus, it facilitates smooth transaction of business in Ministries/ Departments. (ii) It also assists in decision-making in Government by ensuring Inter-ministerial coordination, irons out differences amongst Ministries/Departments and evolving consensus. (iii) It manages major crisis situations in the country.
- Cabinet Secretary: He is administrative head of Cabinet Secretariat. He is also ex-officio Chairman of Civil Services Board. He is the top-most executive official and senior-most civil servant (mainly for IAS cadre) of the Government of India.
- N R Pillai was the first cabinet secretary of independent India and served from February 6, 1950 to May 13, 1953.
- Y N Sukthankar had served as cabinet secretary for longest duration from May 14, 1953 to July 31, 1957.
Tags: All India Services • Cabinet Secretariat • Cabinet Secretary • ex-officio Chairman of Civil Services Board • Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules • Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules 1961 • N R Pillai • PK Sinha • Y N Sukthankar
The government has proposed setting up bureaucrat-led committees that would sit and decide on complaints against the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (ICs).
The government has proposed setting up of two committees:
- One to receive and decide on complaints against the CIC. The committee would include the Cabinet Secretary; Secretary, DoPT; and a retired CIC.
- Second one for complaints against Information Commissioners. The committee would comprise of Secretary (Coordination) in the Cabinet Secretariat; Secretary, DoPT; and a retired IC.
Why the move is opposed?
Section 14 (1) of the RTI Act states that Commissioners can be removed only by the President on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity based on the reference made to the Supreme Court by the President.
Further Section 14 (3) lists the other grounds for removal which includes:
- If he/she is adjudged an insolvent,
- Has been convicted of an offence which involves moral turpitude.
- Engages during his/her term of office in any paid employment outside.
- Is unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body; or
- Has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as the CIC or an IC.
The bureaucrat dominated committee proposed by the government is seen as an attempt to skew checks and balances in favour of the political executive. The committee is also criticised as an attempt by the political dispensation to influence the working of the ICs and it will take away the independence of an institution that has served the citizen’s demand for more transparency in the government by making the Commission more vulnerable to government pressure.