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"Punjab CM's CPS Suresh Kumar is peeved at state not defending him in the High Court"

SATINDER BAINS | July 23, 2020 05:34 PM

CHANDIGARH: Suresh Kumar, a retired IAS officer working as Chief Principal Secretary to Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is a man of few words but he makes a good copy when he lets loose his patience and reconciles time and again. He keeps the media guessing when gossips about his 'love hate' relationship with the CMO hits the newspaper headlines.

Suresh Kumar who 'packed up' his bags from the CMO a few days back stirred a debate over his relations with the Chief Minister and subordinate bureacracy. He had told his staff to return to their parent departments and returned the official vehicle indicating that he would hang his boots. It was fourth time in last two years  that he walked out of CMO on one or the other pretex but this time he seemed more helpless and anguished.

Though there were rumours of he being sidelined in the hierarchy of burocracy and files ere routed to Chief Minister without his advise, the insiders however tell a different tale. It is learnt that he was quite upset over the government not defending him in a high court case challenging his appointment. He might be fearing an unceremonious exit if his appointment is quashed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

After Suresh Kumar  'gave up' his post in the CMO, it was assumed that he had submitted his resignation without any official confirmation from Suresh Kumar or the CMO. Suresh Kumar was finally called by the Chief Minister for personal audience yesterday and unofficial reports suggest he may return to his office after a short break. He would be spending this time with the family.

In June 2019, Kumar had resigned from his position, but his resignation was not accepted. In September, he stopped going to office but was convinced by Amarinder to resume work.Kumar never joined his office in the CMO after September 2019, but had been working from the Punjab Bhawan. All files from the office of Chief Secretary were being routed through him to CM ofice.

Suresh Kumar had once again decided to went home after his case was adjourned last week, once again, without a hearing. He was peeved at the lack of support from the government. He was also not very happy with the dropping of former Chief Secretary Karan Avatr Singh who was replaced by Vinni Mahajan.

Sources said that he was feeling “let down” and “distraught” at the “lackadaisical manner” in which the government was defending his appointment to the CMO. Sources close to Kumar said he was upset for being dragged into a controversy unnecessarily. If the government wants him to work, it should be with dignity.
Kumar, Kumar is a 1983-batch IAS officer is considered a close confidant of Capt Amarinder Singh. He is also the most powerful person in the CMO, perceived by many to be the de facto chief secretary of the state. He was principal secretary to Amarinder during the latter’s first tenure as CM from 2002 to 2007.He had also occupied many important offices as additional Chief Secretary in the previous Parkash Singh Badal government of SAD-BJP alliance.

handpicked by Amarinder as his chief principal secretary a day after taking over as the chief minister in March 2017, when the Congress government came to power. Kumar was appointed in the rank of cabinet secretary of the Government of India.

Kumar's appointment was challenged in Punjab & Haryana HC Kumar’s in August 2017 by an advocate Ramandeep Singh, who said it was not done according to set rules. The petitioner had contended that Kumar was appointed on a cadre post, which he cannot occupy as a retired officer.

In January 2018, the HC set aside Kumar’s appointment upholding the petitioner’s contentions, saying the retired IAS officer was holding a public office without “authority of law”. Following the judgment, Kumar had immediately remitted office.

In February 2018, the Punjab government challenged the single-judge bench’s order. A division bench of the HC stayed the single bench order after which Kumar resumed his duties.He again tendered his resignation last year since he flet thatthe state counsel were not following up the case in the court which had kept the case adjourned for months.

In September last year, Kumar stopped coming to office, again upset over the advocate general’s office not pushing the case for an early decision. After three days, Amarinder Singh once again was able to convince Kumar to return to work.

The entire process of his removal order by the High Court took 10 months. Since then, it has been 30 months and the government has not been able to defend his appointment. It seemed Kumar was under constant pressure due to prolonged court proceedings. The last substantive hearing in the case happened in February this year.

Chief Minister has once more prevailed upon Suresh Kumar to get him back in his office at a time when opposition party Shiromani Akali Dal was attacking CM for 'mistreating' an upright officer like Suresh Kumar.

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