India’s top intelligence agencies will see continuity at the top, while there will be a change of guard in Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K) bureaucratic leadership.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister, has given a one-year extension to Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) chief Samanta Goel and Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Arvinda Kumar.
J&K chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam will come back to the national capital, after seeing through the process of the state losing its special status and turning into a Union Territory in a critical period.
AK Mehta was appointed in Subrahmanyam’s place as the new chief secretary of the union territory.
“The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved an extension in service of Shri Samanta Kumar Goel, IPS (PB:84) as secretary Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) for a period of one year beyond the present tenure i.e 30.06.2021, in relaxation of FR 56(d) and Rule 16(1A) of All India Services (Death cum Retirement Benefits), Rule 1958,” the official order read. A similar order was issued for the IB chief as well.
The tenure of both officers was set to end on June 30.
The extension has put an end to speculations over whether a six-month criterion used in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director’s appointment recently would be applied in these cases as well. In the CBI chief’s appointment, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana cited past judgements of the Supreme Court and argued that only officers who have six months or more of service left should be considered for the post, according to sources.
To be sure, that was in context of a fresh appointment, while Thursday’s orders extended the tenures of already-appointed IB and R&AW chiefs.
Subrahmanyam, on his return from J&K, will take charge as the officer on special duty in the commerce ministry. On June 30, he will take charge as the commerce secretary. “ACC has also approved his appointment as secretary, department of commerce upon super annuation of Shri Anup Wadhwan IAS (uk: 85) secretary department of commerce on 30.06 2021,” the order said.
Subrahmanyam, a Chhattisgarh-cadre officer, was hand-picked for the Kashmir role. In an interview to PTI last year, the 1987-batch officer said before he came to J&K in June 2018, he met the Prime Minister and sought his guidance for his new assignment.
All three officers — Goel, Kumar and Subrahmanyam — have played a huge role in shaping India’s security grid with key roles in Kashmir.
IB’s Kumar, of the Assam and Meghalaya cadre, was handling the Kashmir desk in the agency before he took charge as its director.
Goel was with the Dubai consulate before taking over as R&AW chief. He played a big role in planning India’s cross-border strikes in Balakot in 2019.