Goyal was removed and Mehrishi was brought in. Earlier, Anil Goswami had to leave the post of home secretary mid-way, but there were substantial reasons for his removal after the CBI reportedly submitted an audio tape containing his conversation with a Sharda scam suspect. But on Monday, many in the corridors were wondering what wrong did Goyal do. It was somewhat a déjà vu as S Jaishankar, 1977 batch IFS, was appointed as foreign secretary in January this year for a period of two years when he was to about to retire. The then incumbent Sujatha Singh had to take voluntary retirement almost eight months before her tenure ended.
Significantly, till three months ago, there were rumours that the then finance secretary Mehrishi, a one-time confidant of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje (he was Raje’s principal secretary and then chief secretary) and one of the most efficient bureaucrats of the contemporary era, would be made cabinet secretary superseding many a senior. But with 1977 batch IAS PK Sinha’s appointment for the top bureaucrat’s job, that chapter of Mehrishi’s possible elevation to the top slot got over. And when as many as 16 secretary-level appointments were announced on Friday night, the government made it clear that 1980 batch IAS Shaktikanta Das would replace Mehrishi as secretary, department of economic affairs (DEA). And one can safely conclude that Mehrishi would happily retire on August 31.
But on Monday noon, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet surprised many when it announced that Mehrishi would be the new home secretary for a period of two years. And incumbent Goyal took voluntary retirement, the circular added.
But by the evening, one more circular appeared where it was said that Goyal would be the new chairman of India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO), a post that remained vacant after Rita Menon’s term ended. In fact, 1982 batch IAS JS Deepak who on Friday was appointed as secretary in the department of electronics and IT, was ITPO’s acting chief. ITPO comes under the administrative control of the department of commerce. Significantly, Goyal’s tenure was not mentioned in the circular, something that is considered unusual. “Terms and conditions of appointment of Shri Goyal would be notified later”, the August 31 circular said instead.
The day also witnessed among other appointments the elevation of prime minister Narendra Modi’s private secretary and 1997 batch Indian Foreign Service officer Sanjeev Kumar Singla to the rank of a joint secretary. He was empanelled as joint secretary on the same day.
Also, keeping earlier traditions alive, senior most secretary of the finance ministry, RP Watal of 1978 batch IAS (now expenditure secretary) was designated as finance secretary. He belongs to Andhra cadre. And at mid-night, the government released one more circular that included the appointment of 20 joint secretary level officers.