SRI NAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir is without a Chief Secretary as Mohammad Iqbal Khanday, the incumbent, took voluntary retirement from service to bid adieu to his 37-year-long career on Monday.
With five officers in the race for the post, the government may not go for seniority criteria for appointing a new Chief Secretary.
Khanday, 59, was to retire in November. But after differences with the government on various administrative matters, he decided to quit on August 25 and opted for voluntary retirement from service.
The move came four days after Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed chaired a Cabinet meeting in his absence. The Cabinet meeting was held on August 21, despite Khanday’s request that it be deferred by a couple of days as the 10-day-old grandson of his brother had passed away and he was with the family. In Khanday’s absence, senior officer B R Sharma represented him at the meeting, which ordered a major administrative reshuffle.
Sources close to Khanday said he resigned as he felt that his views were no longer being sought and respected, and that junior officials were being promoted without his consent.
They said Khanday was also not happy over frequent transfers and shuffling of officers including commissioner/secretaries, secretaries, district development commissioners and other officials.
Official sources said Mufti is yet to take a final call on Khanday’s resignation.
“He had been out of the state since August 23 and returned only today (Tuesday). The Chief Minister will take a final call. If the resignation is accepted, a decision on a new Chief Secretary will be taken in the next few days after due consultation between coalition partners PDP and BJP,” sources said.
Khanday was given a farewell by officials in his office chamber on Monday. “Yesterday (Monday) was my last day in office,” Khanday had asserted, thus leaving no room for the government to ask him to continue.
In fact, a couple of PDP ministers had met Khanday on August 25 asking him to take back his resignation. But Khanday stood by his decision. Khanday, who was considered close to Mufti and PDP, has ruled out joining politics. He had served as Principal Secretary to Mufti, when he headed the PDP-Congress Government during 2003-05.