All you need to know about India’s first woman Lok Sabha Secretary General
Snehlata Shrivastava retired as Secretary (Justice) from the Law and Justice Ministry and had a stint in the finance ministry before that.
It may not be mere coincidence that the 17th Lok Sabha, which has the highest number of women members in the nation’s parliamentary history, has a woman Secretary-General, Snehlata Shrivastava. She caught the attention of the media with her polite demeanour and nuanced approach to the all-important job of being the highest presiding officer of the Lok Sabha during the oath taking ceremony of the newly elected Members of Parliament earlier this week.
Seated just below Speaker Om Birla’s seat, in the Well of the House, many members were seen consulting her or seeking her advise during the oath-taking exercise on procedural matters. Although tactful, her nervousness was also evident on the occasion when she mistakenly called the name of Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, a member of the Rajya Sabha, to take oath in place of another minister Pralhad Joshi. Incidentally, Joshi is also the Minister for Parliament Affairs in the current dispensation.
On another occasion, she had to face criticism for not intervening while Sadhvi Pragya took oath using a name beyond what was in the official records. Despite the faux pas, she was appreciated by MPs from even the opposition benches.
With Lok Sabha Secretary General - Snehlata Shrivastava Ji! Big Thank You! She made sure all went smoothly ???? pic.twitter.com/XVb8S0MPpS— Supriya Sule (@supriya_sule) June 20, 2019
As per the rules and procedures, both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha, the two houses of Parliament have separate Secretariats that function under the direction and control of their respective presiding officers, the Secretary-General. The officer is also an advisor to the Chairman in matters concerning the conduct of the Lok Sabha. She is the third most important functionary of the Lok Sabha after the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker and holds the rank equivalent to that of the Cabinet Secretary, the senior-most bureaucrat in the Government.
Shrivastava is the first ever woman Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha. She took charge of the prestigious job in December 2017 and later had a year’s extension in December 2018. Before her, India had a woman Secretary-General in the Rajya Sabha in V.S. Ramadevi in the 1990s. She was also the first woman Chief Election Commissioner of India for a brief period.
A 1982 batch IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, Shrivastava was handpicked by the then Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who was an MP from Indore. The Secretary-General Shrivastava’s stint as a civil servant in Madhya Pradesh brought her in contact with former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. Her work as collector in Mandsaur and other districts, apart from her role as senior officer in Bhopal looking after relief work soon after the 1984 gas leak incident has been greatly appreciated.
She retired as Secretary (Justice) from the Law and Justice Ministry. Before that she also had a stint in the finance ministry in Delhi.