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Law ministry struggles for peace within

The Law and Justice Ministry, the advisory reference point for all government departments on complex legal issues, is on an administrative record-making spree these days.

delhi Updated: Nov 30, 2009 00:48 IST
Nagendar Sharma

The Law and Justice Ministry, the advisory reference point for all government departments on complex legal issues, is on an administrative record-making spree these days.

For the first time, a new Law Secretary has been appointed for a tenure of one year, and a new post of advisor to the Law Minister has been created.

Ministry officials cannot recall the last time there was a secretary on a year’s tenure.

The peculiar situation arose when Law Minister M Veerappa Moily announced in October that TK Vishwanathan was not interested in continuing as Law Secretary.

He held the twin charge of legal and legislative affairs. Vishwanathan was on a year’s extension, granted to him in October 2008, the scheduled time of his retirement.

Finally, days before he was to retire on October 31, the government appointed VK Bhasin as Secretary, Legislative Affairs and conducted interviews for the post of Law Secretary.

Following the interview, DR Meena was appointed the new Law Secretary for a year’s tenure. Not before the Union Cabinet cleared the creation of a post for advisor to Law Minister for one year.

The choice of Vishwanathan for the post did not come as a surprise for anyone.

One of the top law officers, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, said at a public function on Thursday that the government could not afford to lose Vishwanathan.

“He is too indispensable to be allowed to go from the ministry, since he is the one stop reference point on legal and constitutional issues,” Subramanium said.

The UPA government may have put the system in place and retained its trusted and reliable officer, but all are not happy in the ministry.

The staff association has decided to challenge Bhasin’s appointment in the Supreme Court, whom they say, has superseded four officers eligible for the post.

The third crucial wing in the ministry, the Justice Department, is also in news.

This department is functionally controlled by the Law Ministry, but its administrative control is with the Home Ministry.

Bhupinder Prasad, the senior-most officer in the department is its new special secretary.