The government has cited "public interest" to justify the top-level appointment of the law secretary on a contract basis, denying allegations that eligible candidates belonging to weaker sections of the society were overlooked.
Law minister Salman Khurshid on Monday informed Rajya Sabha that the decision had been taken by the government at the highest level, after considering all the relevant aspects.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad had asked: "Recently, the secretary, legal affairs, was appointed. He is to continue in office for a month, and for the remaining one year and 11 months, he will be on contract… Does this department follow the norm of balance of service? When there are senior officers available with more than two years of service, how do you justify this rampant ad-hocism of contract appointment?"
In his reply, Khurshid said: "The decision to appoint on contract for two years was taken in the wisdom of the search-cum-selection committee, which is headed by the cabinet secretary."
He said the search committee's decision was finally ratified by the appointments committee of the cabinet. The law minister denied CPI leader D Raja's charge that at least two officers from the Scheduled Caste category, and one to the Scheduled Tribes category, who were eligible for the post and had more than two years of service, were deliberately ignored.
"This is a serious violation. I would like to know why this has happened. Can you tell us why somebody was appointed on contract, and why SC/ST officers have been denied a genuine opportunity?" Raja asked.
Khurshid said the assumption that "for some reason, people belonging to these categories have been denied is incorrect. The government will continue with this policy, and also affirmative action".