Terms of IB, R&AW chiefs, and Home Secretary to end soon

Union Home Ministry. File

The tenures of three high profile offices — the Union Home Secretary; Director, Intelligence Bureau (IB); and Secretary, Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) — are ending in the next few months, with suspense over whether the present incumbents will continue at the posts or new faces will replace them. Since Independence, none of these offices have been occupied by a woman.

All three officers were granted a year’s extension in office in 2021 and belong to the 1984 batch of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS).

On May 28, 2021, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) granted a one-year extension in service to IB Director Arvinda Kumar and R&AW Secretary Samant Kumar Goel.

Their two-year fixed terms would have ended on June 30, 2021. The ACC on August 12, 2021 granted a one year extension to Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, beyond his two-year fixed tenure that was to end on August 22, 2021.

While Mr. Kumar, an IPS officer, and Mr. Bhalla, an IAS officer, belong to the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, Mr. Goel, also an IPS officer, is from the Punjab cadre.

The general elections are due in first half of 2024. If new appointments to these posts are made next year, they will have a little over six months in their new offices till the model code of conduct kicks in and a new government is formed by May 2024.

There is a sense in the power corridors that changes, if any, will have to be made this year as the government will want continuity and experienced hands in the crucial election year.

Before the 2019 general elections, the then chiefs of IB and R&AW — Rajiv Jain and A.K. Dhasmana, respectively — were granted a six-month extension in service in December 2018, beyond their two-year tenures as the Centre wanted a status quo at the top security posts till the general elections concluded.

According to the Fundamental Rules, 1922 that govern the appointment and tenures of all government servants, the posts of Union Home Secretary; Director, IB; and Secretary, R&AW can be extended by up to two years beyond the two-year fixed tenure in “public interest”.

The extended tenure of another 1984 batch officer of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS), S.K Mishra, Director, Enforcement Directorate (ED), is also to end in November 2022.

Days before his three-year-tenure was to come to an end, the Union government on November 14, 2021 promulgated two ordinances to allow the Centre to extend the tenures of the directors of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED from two years to up to five years.

If the government is to exhaust the five-year extended tenure on Mr. Mishra, then the officer could continue to be in office till November 2024. A Supreme Court ruling in 2017 had fixed a two-year term for Director, ED but the new appointment rules under the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 (Rule 45 of 2003) relaxed the tenure limit to up to five years.

The amendment is also applicable to the Director, CBI’s post, extending the fixed two-year tenure to up to five years under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (Rule 25 of 1946).

The present CBI Director S.K Jaiswal’s two-year term ends in May 2023.

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Printable version | May 1, 2022 8:45:48 pm |