After tiff, senior officer in WCD Ministry put on compulsory wait

Chahal had sought a transfer out of the Ministry.

September 07, 2015 02:13 am | Updated April 20, 2016 06:16 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Sources said I.S. Chahal (right) wanted to shift to the Enforcement Directorate and had requested WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi (left) to clear it.

Sources said I.S. Chahal (right) wanted to shift to the Enforcement Directorate and had requested WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi (left) to clear it.

Once the blue-eyed boy of the former Union Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, >I.S. Chahal , an IAS officer of the Maharashtra cadre, has been put on compulsory wait after he reportedly had a tiff with Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi.

An August 31 order said that Mr. Chahal had been put on compulsory wait in the same Ministry. Mr. Chahal’s five-year central deputation gets over in 2018, since he came here in 2013.

In the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), three important vacancies (Union Territory, North-East, Police-I) at the level of Joint Secretary are coming up, but not many IAS officers from the States are willing to go to the Centre on deputation, sources said.

As per the offer list posted on the website of the Central Staffing Scheme, only four IAS and six IPS officers have expressed their willingness to go to the Centre on deputation. “When the NDA government came to power, we got an impression that bureaucrats would be made powerful. But it is the Ministers who call the shots, and if we don’t fall in line, officers are unceremoniously shunted out or forced to resign,” said a senior official.

When contacted, >Ms. Gandhi refused to comment but sources close to her said: “Since the time this officer [Mr. Chahal] came to the WCD Ministry in November last, he wanted to move out. Soon after joining, he went to the Minister with a file and asked her to clear his transfer to the Enforcement Directorate (ED). In May, he went on a 90-day unscheduled leave without informing anybody… The government has taken a very grim view of the subject and he has been put on compulsory wait…”

A 1989 batch officer, Mr. Chahal was brought to the Centre on deputation by Mr. Shinde, who made him his Officer on Special Duty. When the NDA government came to power last year, he was shifted out of MHA to the WCD Ministry in November. Mr. Chahal is the third senior bureaucrat to have been shunted out unceremoniously.

The last was the former Home Secretary, L.C. Goyal, whose tenure was >cut short by 19 months . He was sent to the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation, best known for organising trade fairs. Mr. Goyal’s case also had a striking resemblance to the ouster of the former Foreign Secretary, Sujatha Singh, whose tenure was cut short by eight months to make way for S. Jaishankar, who was to retire three days before his appointment to the new post.

In June this year, senior bureaucrat Vijaylakshmi Joshi, spearheading Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, sought voluntary retirement, three years ahead of the end of her tenure.

As reported earlier by this newspaper, Mr. Goyal was reportedly shunted out after he had issues with Home Minister Rajnath Singh over several matters. Additional Secretary Anant Kumar Singh, said to be close to the Minister, was not on the same page with Mr. Goyal on many issues. It is learnt that Mr. Singh, who was also transferred out of the MHA on the same day as Mr. Goyal, bypassed the Home Secretary and took matters directly to the Minister. The PMO transferred Mr. Singh to the Petroleum Ministry after cancelling the appointment of Kumar Sanjay Krishna, a 1985 batch IAS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre.

Three key divisions of the MHA — Union Territory, North-East and Police-I — are either vacant or are going to be vacant in the next few days with no appointments at joint secretary level being made to these posts yet.

Sources said not many IAS officers have offered to come for central deputation and the Modi government will find it difficult to fill these key posts.

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