On January 12, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) informed the states that the Union Government intends to amend Rule 6 (Deputation of cadre officers) of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules 1954. The proposed rules will give the Union Government overriding authority to transfer IAS and IPS officers for Central deputation.
The proposed reforms eliminate the requirement for State Government consent for central deputation of officers. At least six state governments have written to the DoPT to express their opposition to such a move. As the remaining respondents did not respond, the DoPT altered the proposal once more. The States were given a period till January 25 to respond to the proposal. According to a government official, the Ministry has sent reminders before publishing the rules in the Official Gazette.
What are the present rules for the deputation of cadre officers?
The cadre regulating authority for IAS officers is the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). The Police Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Environment, respectively, play the same duty with regard to IPS and IFoS Officers.
According to Rule 6(1) of the IAS Cadre Rules, an officer may “be deputed for duty under the Central Government or another State Government with the approval of the State Governments concerned and the Central Government…” It states that “in the event of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Central Government, and the State Government or State Governments concerned shall give effect to the Central Government’s decision.”
The DoPT’s Establishment Officer solicits nominations from State Governments. When a nomination is received, its eligibility is reviewed by a panel, and an offer list is generated, usually with the State government’s participation. The Centre would only select officers from those “on offer” from the states.
The officers hauled up by the Centre will be relieved as soon as possible by the states. Before any All India Services official is called for deputation to the Centre, their consent is required. Furthermore, for Central deputation, the officials must obtain a no-objection clearance from the State government.
States must depute All India Services (AIS) officers, including Indian Police Service (IPS) personnel, to Central government departments, and deputation cannot exceed 40% of the State’s entire cadre strength at any point.
What are the proposed amendments to Rule 6 (deputation of cadre officers)?
Four amendments to Rule 6 of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules 1954 are proposed. These include,
First, if the State government delays posting a State cadre officer to the Centre and fails to give effect to the Central government’s decision within the given time, “the officer shall stand released from cadre from the date as may be determined by the Central government.”
Second, the number of deputed officers will be determined by the Center: In collaboration with the States, the Centre will determine the exact number of officers to be deputed to the Central government. The names of such officers should be made eligible for this purpose by the States.
Third, the Centre’s decision will be final: If there is a disagreement between the Centre and the State, the central government will decide the problem, and the State will have to implement the Centre’s decision “within a set time.”
Fourth, mandatory deputation in public interest cases: In a specific circumstance where the Central government requires the services of cadre officers in the “public interest,” the State must carry out its decisions within a stipulated time frame.
Why did the Centre suggest changes to cadre officer deputation?
All India Services (AIS) officers are in short supply in Union Ministries. The DoPT could not fill Director and Joint Secretary openings in other Central ministries.
Only 10% of mid-level IAS officers would be assigned to the Union government in 2021, down from 19% in 2014. The drop in central deputation of IAS officers becomes even more pronounced as the overall pool of such officers at this level increased from 621 in 2014 to 1130 in 2021, a nearly 80% rise.
The DoPT indicates that the majority of states are failing to achieve their central deputation reserve (CDR) responsibilities (around 40 percent ). CDR utilization has decreased from 25 percent in 2011 to 18 percent today. This underutilization at the central level, notably at the deputy secretary and director levels, results in significant gaps in cadre management.
Officers are sometimes hesitant to accept deputations from the Centre. Most officials avoid Central deputation since their privileges and abilities are better in the States. For example, a) According to the most recent offer list on the MHA’s website, just ten IPS personnel from States have offered themselves for Central deputation, including four Director General rank officers and only two Superintendent of Police rank officers. b) As of January 1, 2021, just 458 of the country’s approximately 5,200 IAS officers were on Central deputation.
What is the State Government’s reasoning for opposing the deputation of cadre officers?
First, the long-term impact of the changes: Some argue that the proposed modification will make it easier for the Centre to use the bureaucracy against an elected State administration. The proposed modifications have severe repercussions for IAS officers’ independence, security, and morale.
States are likely to restrict the number of IAS cadre posts and their annual intake if they begin to distrust the commitment of IAS officers. Instead, they may seek to delegate as many positions as possible to the State Civil Services. Over time, the IAS will lose its luster, and the finest and brightest individuals will no longer pursue a career in the IAS.
Second, the proposed change, according to the West Bengal Chief Minister, is contrary to the “spirit of cooperative federalism” and “unilaterally forces the state government to make such a number of officers available for deputation as prescribed; under [the] Central Deputation Reserve.”
Few scholars and analysts argue that this step would further bury the spirit of cooperative federalism and make the realms of confrontational federalism a truth.
Third, according to Kerala’s Law Minister, the proposed modification was intended to undermine the State’s constitutionally granted jurisdiction and ease the centralization of all executive power in the Central government.
Fourth, state governments have stated that the proposed amendment will erode the State’s political influence over the bureaucracy. This will obstruct effective governance and result in unnecessary legal and administrative problems.
Sardar Patel established the IAS because he believed it was necessary to knit the administrative framework of a vast and diverse country into an integrated whole and offer a connecting link between field execution and policymaking at the top. As a result, the Centre may reconsider the proposed revisions, and the states must follow the guidelines and make additional officers available for deputation to the Centre.
- Mandatory deputation for specific ranks: In the future, the Centre can make deputations mandatory to be impaneled in specific ranks. For example, in 2020, the DoPT changed norms and made it mandatory for IAS officers from the 2007 batch onwards to serve for two years in Central deputation within the first 16 years of their service if they wanted to be impaneled for a joint secretary rank. A similar principle can be applied to other All India Services.
- States must follow existing rules: State governments must grant no-objection clearance in a timely manner to fill Central vacancies without delay. State government nominations should rotationally include all cadre officers.
- Allow sufficient time for states to respond: The Center unilaterally “put at its disposal” three IPS personnel from the Tamil Nadu cadre in July 2001. The Centre unilaterally issued directives for the central deputation of West Bengal’s Chief Secretary just before his last day of office in May 2021. Similar incidents give the impression that the officers were assigned to the Centre due to inefficiency or punishment. Such practices are avoidable at the Centre.
- Increase the number of officers recruited annually so that the abundance in numbers obliges the states to depute their officers to the Centre.
- Another can be to identify a few officers in a separate column during initial recruitment who are willing to depute their services to the Centre.
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