Civil Services Reforms

Cabinet Secretary


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Cabinet Secretariat and its Functions

Rules amended to re-appointment

  • The government amended a six-decade-old rule to grant a three-month extension to a serving Cabinet Secretary.
  • According to All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement-Benefits) Rules, 1958, the government can give extension in service to a cabinet secretary provided the total tenure does not exceed four years.
  • This move has made him the longest-serving bureaucrat in the country’s history following the change in the rule.

Who is Cabinet Secretary?

  • The Cabinet Secretary is the top-most executive official and senior-most civil servant of the Government of India.
  • She/he is the ex-officio head of the Civil Services Board, the Cabinet Secretariat, the IAS, and all civil services under the rules of business of the government.
  • She/he is the senior-most cadre post of the Indian Administrative Service,[6] ranking eleventh on the Indian order of precedence.
  • She/he is under the direct charge of the PM and is appointed for a fixed tenure of two years. 
  • The Cabinet Secretariat is responsible for the administration of the Transaction of Business and the Allocation of Business Rules 1961.


  • She/he facilitates smooth transaction of business in Ministries/ Departments of the Government.
  • This Secretariat provides:
  1. Secretarial assistance to the Cabinet and its Committees
  2. Assists in decision-making in Government by ensuring Inter-Ministerial coordination ,
  3. Ironing out differences amongst Ministries/ Departments
  4. Evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing/ adhoc Committees of Secretaries.

Origin of the post

  • Before the adoption of the portfolio system in India, all Governmental business was disposed of by the Governor-General in Council, the Council functioning as a Joint Consultative Board.
  • This procedure was legalized by the Indian Councils Act, 1861 during the time of Lord Canning, leading to the introduction of the portfolio system and the inception of the Executive Council of the Governor-General.
  • The Secretariat of the Executive Council was headed by the Private Secretary to the Viceroy, but he did not attend the Council meetings.
  • Lord Willingdon first started the practice of having his Private Secretary by his side at these meetings.
  • Later, this practice continued and in November, 1935, the Viceroy’s Private Secretary was given the additional designation of Secretary to the Executive Council.
  • The constitution of the Interim Government in 1946 brought a change in the name, though little in functions, of this Office. The Executive Council’s Secretariat was then designated as Cabinet Secretariat.
  • It no longer remained concerned with only the work of circulating papers to Ministers and Ministries, but developed into an organisation for effecting coordination between the Ministries.
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