Union Finance Secretary T V Somanathan has recently written to all State Chief Secretaries warning punitive action against All India Service officers who give “wrong” or false financial information to the central government.
The context: The Centre allows states to borrow, and releases funds under centrally sponsored schemes under recommendations of the Finance Commission.
-The Centre relies on information provided by states and certified by their officers for this purpose.
-Somananthan flagged that there have been some instances where the factual information provided to the central government was “wrong in material respects” even though certified by competent authorities in the state governments.
-Referring to the All India Services Conduct Rules, Somanathan said that civil servants are responsible to give proper and factual advice and are required to sign certificates and provide information in a “truthful and correct manner”.
-". .officers signing the wrong information and those putting up such wrong information will be taken into account," his letter said.
A specific example: Without taking the name of any state, the Finance Secretary mentioned that in one case, wrong information led to heavy over-borrowing by a state during the tenure of a government and that led to deduction of such amount during the tenure of a subsequent government which caused many difficulties.
How they will identify the erring officers: Chief Secretaries of States can bring such instances, involving officers of the central services on deputation to the state government, to the notice of the central cadre controlling authorities.
-The authorities can take actions against such officers, including possible recall from state deputation and also for initiating disciplinary action.
- Punitive action against erring officers can be taken in matters of their promotion, inter-cadre deputation, foreign training or assignments.
At the same time however, the letter said, "Errors which are bona fide/ not material/ minor will not attract such action."
Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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