Srinagar: With Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khandey having sought voluntary retirement three months ahead of his retirement, the state government on Tuesday said a decision on the new incumbent to the post will be taken by it shortly.
"The Chief Minister has just returned and arrived at his office. A decision on new chief secretary will be taken in due course of time," an official spokesman said.
Khandey was accorded a farewell at the Civil Secretariat last evening. He did not attend office today even though the state government has not taken a decision on his request for voluntary retirement yet.
Khandey had cited differences with the government over the frequent transfers and postings of senior officers and refusal of his request by the government to postpone a Cabinet meeting last month in wake of a death of his relative as the reasons for seeking voluntary retirement.
Four senior IAS officers -- Sonali Kumar, Khurshid Ganai, Arun Kumar and B R Sharma -- are in contention for the top post but Sharma has emerged as the front runner to replace Khandey as he functioned as the Cabinet Secretary during the Cabinet meeting held on August 21.
While Ganai is retiring in October, Sonali Kumar is superannuating in November. Arun Kumar has more than one year service left but he seems to be out of favour in the present dispensation.
Sayeed today returned here after a nine day sabbatical. He had left the state on August 23, the day NSA level talks between India and Pakistan were cancelled, on the advice of doctors who had asked the Chief Minister to take "complete rest" to recover from "exertion", sources in the PDP said.
The absence of the 79-year-old Chief Minister had led to speculation that he was ill and keen on handing over the reigns of the state to his daughter and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti.
Mehbooba, while dismissing the speculation about her father's health, said he had gone to Bengaluru to meet his son.
"Mufti sahib is well and keeping good health. He has returned here today," she said.