Drop the IAS cadre rules amendments
- 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.
- West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to roll back the proposed amendment in the existing service rules.
Existing rules and Proposed amendment
- The Centre has proposed to amend Rule 6 of IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954, to address the crunch of IAS officers by different state governments. The proposed amendment to the IAS Cadre Rules would enable Centre to post IAS officers on central deputation bypassing reservations of the state governments.
- In its amendment, the Centre has proposed to insert a provision in Rule 6 of IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954, which stated that any IAS officer could be posted on central deputation with the concurrence of the state government concerned.
- According to a latest proposal from the Union ministry of personnel, the Centre wants each state government to make available for deputation to the central government such a number of eligible officers of various levels to the extent of the Central Deputation Reserve prescribed under existing regulations, adjusted proportionately by the number of officers available with the state government concerned vis-à-vis the total authorised strength of the state cadre at a given point of time.
- Officials said the proposal will give greater say to the Centre as various state/joint cadres were found to be not sponsoring an adequate number of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers as part of the central deputation reserve even though the ministry had flagged the issue several times.
Healthy conventions earlier
- AIS officers are made available for central deputation through a consultative process involving the Centre, the States and the officers concerned. In the past, certain healthy conventions were generally followed.
- No officer was sent on central deputation against his/her own will.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 course of time, the IAS will lose its sheen, and the best and the brightest candidates will no longer opt for the IAS as a career.
- Short-sighted decisions can do long-term damage to the polity.
Federal polity and Way forward
- 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”.
- 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.