Government defends appointment of Nilam Sawhney as SEC

Nilam Sawhney
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Nilam Sawhney 

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A petition challenging the appointment of former chief secretary Nilam Sawheny as State Election Commissioner came for hearing in High Court on Friday.

Amaravati: A petition challenging the appointment of former chief secretary Nilam Sawheny as State Election Commissioner came for hearing in High Court on Friday.

Arguing on behalf of the state government, advocate general (AG) Sriram Subrahmanyam said that it cannot be contended by the petitioners that only by reason of Nilam Sawhney having been appointed as an advisor to the Chief Minister, her neutrality is under question. In all the constitutional appointments and appointments to neutral office, any appointment is required to be based on suitability of the officer in the opinion of the Governor. Answering to the question asked by the court as to why only the names of IAS officers were nominated for the post of SEC, why did the AG not even mention the names of those from other sectors to the Chief Minister, the AG responded that the Chief Minister contacted him before writing a letter to the Governor proposing names for the SEC appointment. The post of SEC is an administrative matter within the constitutional framework. In addition to past appointments, the method currently followed by other states is examined.

The AG suggested that the former IAS officers were the right ones for the SEC appointment. He said that he has suggested that it is not illegal to consider former IAS officers.

The AG said under the constitutional scheme, it is entirely within the discretionary space of the Chief Minister to decide on appointment of the suitable advisors to advise on various issues.

The AG said as regards the role of the respective advisors, it was brought to the notice that it is not to assume that advisors in the past have not been addressing the media and in fact they have been only in the media all through in the past. The present challenges and the circumstances in the state cannot be judged with reference to any past situation and therefore no advisor could be considered unnecessary or a burden on the exchequer, the AG argued.

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