Former TRAI chairman Nripendra Misra was on Wednesday appointed principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the government promulgated an ordinance to amend a law that could have prevented him from getting the key post.
Misra is a 1967-batch retired IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre and his appointment will be co-terminus with the term of the PM or till further orders, according to an order issued by the ministry of personnel.
Misra, 69, who has served in various capacities in the government, retired as the chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in 2009.
The TRAI Act prohibits its chairman and members from taking up any other job in the central or state governments after demitting office.
“The chairperson or any other member ceasing to hold office as such, shall — (a) be ineligible for further employment under the Central government or any state government or (b) not accept any commercial employment, for a period of two years from the date he ceases to hold such office,” says the TRAI Act of 1997 available on the law ministry's website.
To circumvent this section which would have barred Misra from taking up the assignment of principal secretary to PM, the Modi government promulgated an ordinance amending it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra heading to chair the first Cabinet Meeting of his government in New Delhi. (PTI photo)
The ordinance amends this section to read as: "The chairperson and the whole-time members shall not, for a period of two years from the date on which they cease to hold office as such, except with the previous approval of the Central government, accept — "(a) any employment either under the Central government or under any state government; or "(b) any appointment in any company in the business of telecommunication service."
Under Misra's chairmanship, TRAI had recommended in August 2007 that spectrum should be auctioned.
After the 2G spectrum scam broke out, Misra had deposed as a prosecution witness before a Delhi court hearing a matter in which former telecom minister A Raja was an accused.
Misra will succeed Pulok Chatterjee, who served in Manmohan Singh's PMO.
The principal secretary to the PM is a key post and acts as main link for coordination among Prime Minister's Office, cabinet secretariat and secretaries of ministries.
Hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Misra is a post-graduate in political science and public administration.
He has served in several key posts in central government ministries during his tenure.