Dilip Cherian | Changes afoot as NSA Doval team expands with key posts

Hitesh Kumar Makwana's plea for cadre transfer from Tamil Nadu to Gujarat is denied, ending a protracted legal dispute over administrative decisions

The National Security Council Secretariat has undergone several notable changes recently, while also maintaining some continuity. Previously secretary (west) in the external affairs ministry, Pavan Kapoor has been appointed deputy national security adviser (NSA). This move is part of a series of appointments that include Rajinder Khanna, who has been promoted from deputy NSA to the newly established role of additional NSA. Mr Khanna, a former chief of India’s external intelligence agency, Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), is stepping into a pivotal role that didn't exist before.

Another key appointment is T.V. Ravichandran, an IPS officer currently serving as special director in the Intelligence Bureau. He replaces Mr Khanna as deputy NSA. Mr Ravichandran's initial tenure is set to last until his retirement on August 31, 2024, after which he may continue on a contractual basis. This reshuffle follows the recent appointment of Vikram Misri as the next foreign secretary, effective from July 15.

These changes mean that under NSA Ajit Doval, who is now in his third term, there will be one additional NSA and three deputy NSAs. The appointments committee of the Cabinet has played a crucial role in arranging these appointments, ensuring a blend of fresh perspectives and experienced leadership within the NSCS.

The strategic nature of these appointments might hint at potential future shifts within the NSA office itself. Delhi is currently abuzz with rumours of a major reshuffle of key secretaries and other significant positions, possibly in September. While these moves appear subtle, they could signal broader changes within India's national security framework.

WB Governor tussles with his top officials

West Bengal governor C.V. Ananda Bose has stirred up quite the controversy by writing to Union home minister Amit Shah, urging strict action against West Bengal’s chief secretary Mr B.P. Gopalika and two senior police officers, Kolkata police commissioner Vineet Kumar Goyal and deputy police commissioner (central) Indira Mukherjee. These letters, sent last month, accuse the officers of serious misconduct, claiming they have blatantly violated All India Services (AIS) conduct rules and acted as “willing accomplices in the misdeeds of the ruling dispensation”.

Sources have informed DKB that the Union home ministry has initiated disciplinary action against Mr Goyal and Mr Mukherjee for allegedly maligning the office of the state governor by “promoting and spreading canard”.

Mr Ananda Bose’s detailed notes have created quite a stir in the babu corridors of North Block. Reportedly, in his letters, Mr Ananda Bose’s outlined how the officers, particularly Chief Secretary Gopalika, have openly disregarded the Constitution and conduct rules. He warned that failure to take action could further deteriorate the integrity of the Services and harm national interests. The governor accused Mr Gopalika of aiding and abetting corruption and highlighted issues like job recruitment scandals and alleged lawlessness in the state.

Mr Ananda Bose also added allegations against Mr Goyal and Mr Mukherjee, linking them to an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against him. These accusations seem to be part of a broader effort by Mr Ananda Bose to clear his name, as he has previously dismissed the sexual harassment claims as a “sinister plot”.

Interestingly, Mr Ananda Bose’s letters come amidst speculation about his potential removal from his post in Bengal. Factors such as dissent among state BJP leaders and the common practice of reshuffling Raj Bhavan after a new regime takes office in Delhi, fuel these rumours. Despite this, sources indicate that the bureaucratic follow-up on Mr Ananda Bose's letters has already begun, making his tenure's continuity less critical.

Mr Ananda Bose’s time as governor, which began on November 22, 2022, has been anything but smooth. Initially welcomed warmly by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, their relationship quickly soured due to his perceived alignment with the BJP. Mr Ananda Bose has faced numerous clashes with the Trinamul Congress, which has accused him of being a central government puppet, especially after sexual harassment allegations against him surfaced.

The drama continues to unfold, as it is expected that Ms Banerjee will retaliate strongly. Watch this space for updates.

Gujarat HC dismisses babu’s cadre transfer plea

The Gujarat high court has just thrown out the petition of Hitesh Kumar Makwana (IAS: 1995: TN), who was seeking a transfer from Tamil Nadu to his home state of Gujarat. The court pointed out that such a change at the tail end of his career would cause a domino effect on other appointments within the cadre.

Mr Makwana has been battling this issue legally since 1996, almost right after his cadre was assigned. He argued that based on the 2:1 ratio for cadre allotment favouring outsiders and insiders, he should have been placed in Gujarat as an insider. After being denied by the Centre, he took his case to the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and then escalated it to the high court.

However, the Centre stood firm, stating that Mr Makwana had no inherent right to be placed in his home state's cadre. They emphasised that cadre allocation is an administrative matter and can only be subject to judicial review in clear cases of discrimination.

So, after years of legal wrangling, the court’s decision brings this long-standing fight to a close. It’s a reminder that cadre allocations, while seemingly bureaucratic, have broader implications and are not easily overturned.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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