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[Burning Issue] IAS cadre rules amendments

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Context

The Central Government has proposed four amendments to Rule 6(1) of the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954 dealing with deputation, and has sought the views of State governments before January 25, 2022.

Historical background of All India Services

  • It was Sardar Patel who had championed the creation of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS) as “All India Services” (AIS) whose members would be recruited and appointed by the Centre and allotted to various States, and who could serve both under the State and the Centre.
  • Speaking to the Constituent Assembly on October 10, 1949, Patel said, “The Union will go, you will not have a united India if you have not a good All India Service which has the independence to speak out its mind, which has a sense of security….”.
  • The All India Services (AIS) comprises three civil services:
  1. the Indian Administrative Service,
  2. the Indian Police Service and
  3. the Indian Forest Service
  • A unique feature of the AIS is that the members of these services are recruited by the centre (Union government in federal polity), but their services are placed under various State cadres.
  • They have the liability to serve both under the State and under the centre.
  • Officers of these three services comply to the All India Services Rules relating to pay, conduct, leave, various allowances etc.
  • The All India Services Act, 1951, provides for the creation of two more All India Services, namely, the Indian Engineering Service and the Indian Medical Service.

Central deputation of All India Service officers

  • Consultative process: AIS officers are made available for central deputation through a consultative process involving the Centre, the States and the officers concerned.
  • The Centre would choose officers only from among those “on offer” from the States.
  • Concurrence of the State government: The existing Rule 6(1) states that a cadre officer may be deputed to the Central Government (or to another State or a PSU) only with the concurrence of the State Government concerned.
  • However, it has a proviso which states that in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Central Government.
  • Unfortunately, both the Centre and the States have at times flouted these healthy conventions for political considerations.

The politicization of the deputation process

  • Unfortunately, both the Centre and the States have at times flouted the above healthy conventions for political considerations.
  • In July 2001, the Centre unilaterally “placed at its disposal” the services of three IPS officers of Tamil Nadu cadre.
  • In December 2020, the Centre did the same in respect of three IPS officers of West Bengal cadre.
  • In May 2021, the Centre unilaterally issued orders for the central deputation of the Chief Secretary of West Bengal just before his last day in service.
  • In all these cases, the States concerned refused to relieve the officers. 
  • Some States used to vindictively withhold the names of some of the officers who had opted for central deputation or delay their relief after they were picked up by the Centre.
  • On the other hand, Union government was unable to fill vacancies at director and joint secretary level in various Central ministries.
  • Around 40% or 390 Central Staffing Scheme (CSS) posts are at joint secretary level (more than 19 years experience) and 60% or 540 such posts are at the rank of deputy secretary (nine years) or director rank (14 years of service).
  • The proposed amendment to rule: The Central Government has proposed four amendments to Rule 6(1) of the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954 dealing with deputation.

Proposed amendments

Four amendments are proposed to Rule 6 of IAS (Cadre) Rules.

  • One of the major changes proposed is if the State government delays posting a State cadre officer to the Centre within the specified time, “the officer shall stand relieved from cadre from the date as may be specified by the Central government.”
    • Presently, officers have to get a no-objection clearance from the State government for Central deputation.
  • The other change proposed is the Centre will decide the actual number of officers to be deputed to the Central government in consultation with the State and the latter should make eligible the names of such officers
    • According to existing norms, States have to depute the All India Services (AIS) officers, including IPS officers, to the Central government offices and at any point it cannot be more than 40% of the total cadre strength.
  • The third proposed amendment says that in case of any disagreement between the Centre and the State, the matter shall be decided by the Central government and the State shall give effect to the decision of the Centre “within a specified time.”
  • The fourth change proposed is that in specific situation (discretionary power) where services of cadre officers are required by the Central government in “public interest” the State shall give effect to its decisions within a specified time.

Is the problem acute?

  • According to 2021 data, of the total 6,709 IAS officers in the country, 445 were posted with the Union — only 6.6%. In 2014, of the 4,605 officers, 651 were posted with the Union (14 %).
  • In 2021, only 10% mid-level IAS officers (deputy secretary/director, 9-14 years experience) were posted with the Centre in 2021, a sharp fall from 19% in 2014, even though the total pool of such officers at this rank expanded from 621 in 2014 to 1130 in 2021, an increase of around 80%.

Issues with the proposed amendments

  • The contemplated changes have grave implications for the independence, security and morale of IAS officers.
  • Infringement of rights of States: States are right in perceiving the proposed amendments as a serious infringement of their rights to deploy IAS officers as they deem best, especially when the cutting edge of policy implementation is mostly at the State level.
  • States may prefer officers of the State Civil Services to handle as many posts as possible.
  • Against cooperative federalism: In S.R. Bommai vs Union of India (1994), the Supreme Court held that “States have an independent constitutional existence and they have as important a role to play in the political, social, educational and cultural life of the people as the Union. They are neither satellites nor agents of the Centre”.
  • Consent of Officers neglected: The proposed amendment more or less compels a State government to offer IAS officers for central deputation even when these officers themselves may not wish to go on central deputation.
  • Scope for Political Misuse: New rules may be misused for political considerations. For instance: Centre can unilaterally place at its disposal the services of the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary to CM and other key officers of a State ruled by a rival party, thereby hampering the smooth administration of states.
  • May decline the sheen of All India Services: The contemplated changes have grave implications for the independence, security and morale of IAS officers. If States begin to doubt the loyalty of IAS officers, they are likely to reduce the number of IAS cadre posts and also their annual intake of IAS officers. They may prefer officers of the State Civil Services to handle as many posts as possible

Conclusion

In a federal setup, it is inevitable that differences and disputes would arise between the Centre and the States. But all such quarrels should be resolved in the spirit of cooperative federalism and keeping the larger national interest in mind.

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Tech04 all
Tech04 all
2 months ago