The Delhi High Court today termed as "inelegant" a circular issued by the Centre on appointment of personal secretaries (PS and PPS) and officers on special duty (OSD) to union ministers of the current dispensation.
"This is an inelegant way of doing things. Appointment of a personal secretary to a minister is his or her own personal choice. Do not issue circulars like this," a bench of justices B D Ahmed and S Mridul said.
"Government is yours. Ministers are yours. What difference does it make whom they (ministers) want? If they want earlier people, its their wish," the court said.
As per the June 19, 2014, circular of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) a person attached as personal office staff with a union minister for last ten years be not appointed in such a capacity with ministers of the current government. The circular was later clarified by the DoPT to state it is applicable to OSDs and secretaries and not to junior office staff, like peons.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, argued "there are no fetters on us to make such appointments. It was an administrative exercise. It is our prerogative." The court said while it was the government's prerogative to make such appointments, the DoPT circular was not the way to do so. They (ministers) have to be advised on whom they should not choose," the ASG and central government's Standing Counsel Vivek Goel said.
The bench, however, remarked "your circular appears to mean that if a person has affiliation with a particular political party, then he/she can't be appointed". The ASG said that was not the intention behind the June 19, 2014 circular. "Government remains permanent. Political parties come and go," the bench said.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Society for Voice of Human Rights and Justice challenging the June 19 circular. The court renotified the matter to August 27 when the Centre will inform it whether the circular can be reworded. "You do it (appointments) but in a proper way," the court said.