Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday gave cabinet secretary Ajit Seth a six-month extension, a move that would place a fresh set of bureaucrats including petroleum secretary Saurabh Chandra in the reckoning for the top job.
He was given a one-year extension by the Manmohan Singh government in June last year after completing his two-year term.
Seth’s extension eliminates the chances of Sutanu Behuria, secretary, heavy industry department, who is due to retire on July 31. Water resources secretary Alok Rawat and corporate affairs secretary Naved Masood — who are next in the seniority list — will still be in the race six months later. Both of them are 1977 batch officers.
The cabinet secretary’s post was originally the first among equals and not a promotion post. Nearly two decades ago, the CS’ post was raised a notch higher. The government does retain the right to appoint any of the senior officers amongst the hierarchy-conscious IAS to the key post. But it needs to demonstrate that it had considered all officers according to seniority.
Seth’s six-month extension would bring Jawed Usmani, Saurabh Chandra in the zone of consideration for this post later.