- GS-2: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive
- GS-2: Important aspects of governance
- GS-2: Federal Challenges
IAS cadre rules amendments
Context: The Centre has proposed amendments to the IAS (Cadre) Rules in order to exercise greater control in central deputation of IAS officials, which has often been at the centre of tussles between the Centre and the states.
Significant role of AIS
- 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.
- AIS is considered as essential to knit the administrative framework of a vast and diverse country into an integrated whole. It will provide a connecting link between implementation at the field level and policymaking at the top.
What is current rule on deputation?
- AIS officers are made available for central deputation through a consultative process involving the Centre, the States and the officers concerned.
- Central deputation in the Indian Administrative Service is covered under Rule-6 (1) of the IAS (Cadre) Rules-1954, inserted in May 1969.
- It states: “A cadre officer may, with the concurrence of the State Governments concerned and the Central Government, be deputed for service under the Central Government (or to another State or a PSU).”
- In the past, certain healthy conventions were generally followed. Before any officer of the AIS is called for deputation to the Centre, his or her concurrence is required.
- Every year, the States would prepare an “offer list” of officers who had opted for central deputation without arbitrarily withholding any names.
- The Centre would choose officers only from among those “on offer” from the States.
- The States would relieve the officers picked up by the Centre at the earliest.
- In 2020, the DoPT, to ensure that more officers come to the Centre, changed norms and made it mandatory for IAS officers from the 2007 batch onwards to mandatorily serve for two years in Central deputation within first 16 years of their service
What were the political challenges with such deputation?
- 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).
What are the 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.
What are the criticisms raised?
- 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.
- Affects the administration of States: States perceive 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.
- 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
- 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.
Connecting the dots: