Sujata Saunik set to become first woman IAS officer to be Maharashtra Chief Secy

Mumbai, June 30: Maharashtra is set to get a first woman IAS officer as the Chief Secretary. The MahaYuti government, which last Friday in its annual budget announced a slew of women-centric proposals, will appoint Sujata Saunik, an IAS officer of the 1987 batch as the Chief Secretary (CS) as the incumbent CS Nitin Kareer retires on Sunday.

The state General Administration Department headed by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde will issue a formal order after lunch so that she can take over the charge after 5 p.m. from the outgoing Chief Secretary Nitin Kareer. Sujata Saunik will retire in June next year. Besides, Sujata Saunik, additional chief secretary from the revenue department Rajesh Kumari (1987 batch) and additional chief secretary to the Chief Minister Iqbal Chahal (1989 batch) were two other front runners for the Chief Secretary post.

Top government sources said that Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis were unanimous in choosing Sujata Saunik as the CS as the government wanted to send a strong signal to women voters ahead of upcoming assembly elections. Besides, her selection comes at a time when the government recently launched the implementation of the Fourth Women Policy which aims at the empowerment and development of women.

Known as a strict and no-nonsense officer, Sujata Saunik is currently the additional chief secretary in the state home department. She was recently elevated to the Secretary rank by the Department of Personnel and Training. She had held the post of additional chief secretary in the General Administration Department and also in a couple of other departments including public health. Sujata Saunik has three decades of public policy and governance experience in healthcare, finance, education, disaster management, and peacekeeping at the district, state, and federal levels and in international organisations as part of the Indian Administrative Service and the United Nations. Despite being senior in the 1987 batch, the government had appointed her husband Manoj Saunik, who also comes from the same batch, as the CS during April-December 2023.

Currently, Manoj Saunik is the Principal Advisor to the Chief Minister. After Manoj Saunik’s retirement, the government for the second time did not consider Sujata Saunik for the post as it picked up her junior from the 1988 batch Nitin Kareer as the CS. Kareer, who was appointed on December 31 last year, was to retire in March this year but he was given three three-month extension in the wake of the Lok Sabha elections. As his extension expires on Sunday, he will formally retire as the CS.