Explained: Why The Centre And States Are Sparring Over Proposed Changes In IAS Cadre Rules
While chief ministers have called the proposals an attack on federal structure, cooperative federalism, state’s autonomy, etc., the centre views it as critical to increasing the strength of its own bureaucracy.
The central government’s proposal to change Indian Administrative Services IAS (cadre) rules has invited huge backlash from the states ruled by non-Bharatiya Janata Party governments.
On 20 December 2021, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) wrote a letter to state governments proposing to insert an additional condition in Rule 6(1) of IAS (cadre) rules, 1954 which was inserted in 1969 when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister.
Many commentaries in the media have wrongfully stated that the centre will now have the final say in shifting IAS officers serving in states to deputation to the union government thus weakening the autonomy and disrupting the functioning at the state level. However, the centre has always had this power since 1969.
Rule 6(1) states that,
“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 another State Government or under a company, association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not, which is wholly or substantially owned or controlled by the Central Government or by another State Government. Provided that in case 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 decision of the Central Government.”
It’s as clear as it gets. The only proposed change to present clause is that in case of any disagreement, the State Government(s) concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government “within a specified time”.
The reason the centre felt the need to add that phrase is because of some recent instances when IAS officers serving in states have been seen to be openly doing the bidding of the Chief Ministers at the cost of doing the right thing.
Alapan Bandyopadhyay, ex IAS officer who is currently Chief Adviser to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, is a case in point. He was given a three month extension after his retirement as Chief Secretary but the centre asked him to report in Delhi on the day of his retirement because he neither received the Prime Minister on landing in Kolkata as per protocol nor attended, as a representative of the state, the meeting PM Modi was chairing in wake of Cyclone Yaas. He did not report in Delhi. Banerjee also refused to relieve him.
Before this, in December 2020, the BJP president J P Nadda’s motorcade was attacked outside Kolkata. The union government ordered that three IPS officers, who were in charge of security, be sent on deputation to the centre. Banerjee again refused.
The latest tussle was between the centre and Punjab government over security lapse during PM Modi’s trip to the state when officials failed to clear a road of protesters and he had to be stranded over a flyover for half and hour, putting him at great risk to attack from terrorists to anti-social elements.
However, in all these cases, the centre has lacked the resolve to take on the states legally for their open defiance despite having a clear mandate as per Rule 6(1). Would adding ‘within a specified time’ change much because that will certainly not stop the likes of Banerjee to defy compliance with centre’s demands.
Moreover, the centre has also proposed that “each State Government shall make available for deputation to the Central Government, such number of eligible officers of various levels to the extent of the Central Deputation Reserve prescribed under Regulations referred to in Rule 4(1), adjusted proportionately by the number of officers available with the State Government concerned vis-à-vis the total authorized strength of the State cadre at a given point of time. The actual number of officers to be deputed to the Central Government shall be decided by the Central Government in consultation with State Government concerned.”
This was necessitated because as per the centre, various state/joint cadres are not sponsoring adequate number of officers for central deputation, as part of the Central Deputation Reserve (CDR) due to which the number of officers available for central deputation is not sufficient to meet the requirement at centre.
In fact, the number of officers serving at the centre has fallen over the past few years. In 2011, there were 309 IAS officers on CDR. Now, there are only 223. “The percentage of CDR utilization has gone down from 25 per cent in 2011 to 18 per cent as on date. This is despite an increase of IAS officers at deputy secretary/Director level in IAS from 621 in 2014 to 1130 in 2021,” admits a note by the centre.
However, as many as 10 chief ministers who have opposed the move, many of them note that the inability to send officers to the centre is because of the shortage at state level. The centre has taken note of this and argues that the proposed rule changes state ‘that the state cadre may now provide such number of offices as part of CDR only after adjusting the same proportionately with the number of officers available in the cadre’.
The centre’s reasoning is that since this will be done in consultation with the states, there is nothing to be worried about. Moreover, as per Rule 6(2), the current procedure is that centre mandates the state governments to provide a list of only those officers who are willing to be deputed for CDR.
While chief ministers have called the proposals as attack on federal structure, cooperative federalism, state’s autonomy, etc, the centre is viewing it as critical to increasing the strength of its own bureaucracy.
“This is not just a Centre-state issue; it needs to be viewed from the perspective of the governance of the country. It cannot be a question of individual comfort when the governance of the country suffers,” the secretary of information and broadcasting Apurva Chandra said.
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