Santhi Kumari becomes first woman chief secretary of Telangana

As soon as the order was issued, Santhi Kumari assumed charge at 3.15 pm, after incumbent Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar demitted office.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jan 11, 2023 | 4:49 PM Updated Jan 11, 2023 | 5:12 PM

New Telangana Chief Secretary A Shanthi Kumari with Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao.

Ending the nailbiting suspense, the Telangana government on Wednesday, 11 January, appointed 1989-batch IAS officer A Santhi Kumari as the chief secretary of the state.

As soon as the order was issued, she assumed charge at BRKR Bhavan at 3.15 pm, after incumbent Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar demitted office following a direction from the Telangana High Court on Tuesday.

With this, Santhi Kumari became the first woman chief secretary of the state.

She was the special chief secretary for Forests and Environment before taking up the current assignment. She is due to retire in April 2025.

According to sources, she was handpicked by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao as she has more than two and a half years of service left, extending beyond the next Assembly elections later this year and the Lok Sabha elections next year.

The chief minister, before appointing her to the coveted post, discussed with her at length the responsibilities that go with the top bureaucratic position.

Santhi Kumari replaces Somesh Kumar 

Shanthi Kumari.

Santhi Kumari. (Supplied)

Santhi Kumari, who handled the Medical and Health Department, also headed the special chasing cell in the Chief Minister’s Office.

She served as the collector for several districts in the integrated state of Andhra Pradesh.

Meanwhile, Somesh Kumar will be reporting to the AP cadre on Thursday.

The high court order asking him to move to AP, where he was originally allotted at the time of the bifurcation of the state, came as a shock to him as he still has about 11 years of service.

The 1989-batch IAS officer had been serving as the chief secretary of Telangana for the last three years.

He was handpicked by KCR in 2019, superseding eight officers who were senior to him.

At the time of the bifurcation of the state in 2014, he was the GHMC commissioner. Later he worked as principal secretary, Tribal Welfare, Prohibition & Excise, and Revenue.

What lies ahead for Somesh and his ilk

Telangana Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar

Telangana Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar with Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. (Supplied)

It is not clear what Somesh Kumar will do next. As he has been asked to join the AP cadre, he would be reporting there on Thursday.

Then he might approach the Supreme Court for a stay on the high court order, or even resign or take VRS so that he could be appointed as an advisor to the Telangana government.

As the fortunes of the incumbent chief secretary changed overnight, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers continuing in Telangana — though they were allotted to AP — are worried about what would happen to them.

One of them is in-charge Director General of Police Anjani Kumar. The high court has heard his case and kept its judgment in reserve.

The IAS officers who are in Telangana though they are allotted to AP include C Hari Kiran, G Anantha Ramu, Mallela Prashanti, Karuna Vakati, A Vani Prasad, D Donald Rose, Srijana Gummalla and Shivashankar Loheti and IPS officers include A V Ranganath, Santhosh Mehra, and Abhishek Mohanty.

Also read: Yet another meeting fails to build consensus between AP, Telangana