DW Bureau | Chandigarh
Putting to rest all speculations and uncertainty, the 1983-batch IAS officer, Suresh Kumar on Monday returned to the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) as Chief Principal Secretary to the CM, Punjab. His decision to join back the duties came after two rounds of meetings held today with Capt Amarinder Singh who had already announced that Kumar will be his CPS as long as he was the Chief Minister of the State.
The decision of the Chief Minister to engage top Supreme Court lawyer P. Chidambaram and personally monitor the case in the aftermath of the single-bench order of the HC had sent clear signals that he was strongly behind Suresh Kumar.
On February 7, Daily World had published a news report that Suresh Kumar would soon be returning to the CMO.
A division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had on February 14 stayed the operation of a single-bench order that had set aside the appointment of Suresh Kumar as the CPS to the Chief Minister, paving the way for the CM’s trusted officer to return to the office.
Staying the operation of the order of the single bench, a division bench of Justices Mahesh Grover and Rajbir Sehrawat had observed: “We are prima facie of the opinion that at best even if the locus of the petitioner to file a writ of quo warranto is accepted the same would necessarily espouse a public interest as the petitioner’s interest does not conflict with that of State of the incumbent assigned the status of the a Chief Principal Secretary.”
The Court had further observed that since the learned Single Judge who dealt with the matter was not bestowed with the subject roster, the judgment in these circumstances could possibly be construed as coram non judice. Even otherwise, the matter needs deeper deliberation, it said.
On January 17, the single bench of the High Court had set aside Kumar’s appointment, saying the retired IAS officer was holding a public office “without the authority of law”. The Punjab Government had filed an appeal, challenging the single-bench order that had set aside the appointment. The Government had contended that it had “unequivocal powers” to make contractual appointments.
The Punjab Government, in its appeal filed through the Chief Secretary and the department of General Administration, had said it had the power to assign duties to an appointee.
Kumar retired in 2016 as the Additional Chief Secretary. He had occupied various positions in the state as well as at the Centre on deputation. He had also served as the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister during Capt Amarinder’s previous tenure of 2002-2007.