The Central government has made changes to the rules regarding retirement benefits for IAS, IPS, and Indian Forest Service (IFoS) pensioners.
Under the new rules, the government has the power to take action against pensioners and withhold or withdraw their pension, even without a reference from the state government. This can happen if the pensioners are found guilty of serious misconduct or are convicted of a serious crime.
According to a 6 July notification from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the amended All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 2023, define 'grave misconduct' as the communication or disclosure of any document or information mentioned in the Official Secrets Act.
Additionally, a 'serious crime' includes any offence under the Official Secrets Act.
According to the government sources cited by The Indian Express, an earlier rule 3(3) in the the All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958 states that the central government could withhold or withdraw a pension or any party of it “on a reference from the State Government concerned, if after retirement a pensioner is convicted”.
The amended rules now include "or otherwise" after "the State Government concerned".
This means that the central government can take action against a pensioner without having to wait for a reference from the state government, Indian Express reported citing a source in the DoPT.
If a pensioner is found guilty of grave misconduct or convicted of a serious crime by a court, the central government can act on its own.
If the concerned state government fails to send references in certain cases, the central government may take action, a source in a state government was quoted in the IE report as saying.
The reason behind this amendment is that sometimes state governments do not refer retired officials for action, even after they have been convicted by the courts.
There have been disagreements between the Central and West Bengal governments regarding the application of the Centre's rules on deputation of All India Services officials.
Due to the nature of All India Services, the Central government often lacks the power to take action against these officers without a reference from the state governments.
The amended rules emphasise that the decision of the Central Government on withholding or withdrawing the pension will be final.
A new rule states that no member of a service who has worked in any Intelligence or security-related organisation can make any publication after retirement without prior clearance from the Head of such Organization.
This includes any material related to the organisation's domain, as well as any reference or information about personnel, their designation, expertise, knowledge gained from working in the organisation, and sensitive information.
According to a DoPT source quoted in the report, officials who disclose sensitive information through media or books will face consequences. A similar amendment was also made in the pension rules for Central Civil Services in 2021.
Officers who served with intelligence or security-related organisations will have to give an undertaking to abide by new rules and any failure to observe such an undertaking on the part of a retired member of services “shall be treated as grave misconduct".
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