Civil Services Reforms

Drop the IAS cadre rules amendments

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : All India Services

Mains level : Paper 2- Amendments to IAS Cadre rules

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….”.

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 politicisation of the deputation process

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Two of the four proposed amendments are disconcerting

  • 1] Providing a fixed number of IAS officers for central deputation: One is a new proviso making it mandatory for the State government to provide a certain fixed number of IAS officers for central deputation every year. 
  • 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.
  • Reasons for shortage of  IAS officers: Poor working conditions in junior-level posts, an opaque and arbitrary system of empanelment for senior-level posts, and lack of security of tenure at all levels are the real reasons for the shortage of IAS officers, which the Centre should address.
  • 2] Requiring states to release the officer: The other is a proviso that requires the State government to release such officers whose services may be sought by the Central Government in specific situations.
  • Based on experiences of the recent past, State governments have a justified apprehension that this proviso may be misused for political considerations. 

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.
  • . In course of time, the IAS will lose its sheen, and the best and the brightest candidates will no longer opt for the IAS.
  • 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”.

Consider the questions “What are the proposed amendments to IAS Rule 1954? What are the concerns with the proposed changes?”

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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