The story so far: The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) sent a communication to all States on January 12 seeking their opinion on the proposal to amend Rule 6 (deputation of cadre officers) of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules 1954. Similar letters were also sent proposing changes in cadre rules of the other two All India Services (AIS): the Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service (IFoS). Through the amendments, the Union government plans to acquire powers to depute IAS/IPS and IFoS officers to the Central Government and Ministries without necessarily taking the State government’s nod. After the All India Services Act, 1951 came into existence, the IAS cadre rules were framed in 1954.
What are the changes proposed?
Four amendments including two new insertions are proposed. First, the States should make available the names of such officers, part of a central deputation reserve (CDR), who can be deputed to the Centre. “The actual number of officers to be deputed to the Central government shall be decided by the Central government in consultation with the State government concerned,” the proposed amendment says. The CDR cannot be more than 40% of the actual strength at any point.
According to existing norms, States have to depute AIS officers to the Union government offices and at any point it cannot be more than 40% of the total cadre strength.
The second change is in case of any disagreement between the Centre and the State, the matter shall be decided by the Central government and the State shall give effect to the decision of the Centre “within a specified time.” The “specified time” clause is a new insertion.
The third and one of the major changes proposed is if the State government delays posting a State cadre officer to the Centre and does not give effect to the Central government’s decision within the specified time, “the officer shall stand relieved from cadre from the date as may be specified by the Central government.” Presently, officers have to get a no-objection clearance from the State government.
The fourth change is that in a specific situation where services of cadre officers are required by the Central government in “public interest” the State shall give effect to its decisions, within a specified time.
What triggered the move?
In its January 12 letter, DoPT said in spite of existing provisions, States are not sponsoring adequate numbers of officers for Central deputation and the available officers are not sufficient to meet requirements. The letter was preceded by similar communications sent on December 20, December 27 and January 6 where DoPT sought comments from the States. Half-a-dozen States opposed the move and the rest did not respond; it revised the proposal and States have been given time till January 25 to reply. In 2021 and 2020, DoPT sent letters cautioning States that not sending enough officers may affect the future cadre review proposals and that it was unable to fill vacancies at director and joint secretary levels in various Central ministries.
Is the problem acute?
According to 2021 data, of the total 6,709 IAS officers in the country, 445 were posted with the Union -- only 6.6%. In 2014, of the 4,605 officers, 651 were posted with the Union (14 %).
In 2021, only 10% mid-level IAS officers (deputy secretary/director, 9-14 years experience) were posted with the Centre in 2021, a sharp fall from 19% in 2014, even though the total pool of such officers at this rank expanded from 621 in 2014 to 1130 in 2021, an increase of around 80%.
Why are States opposed to the changes?
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written two letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying it was against the “spirit of cooperative federalism”. The Chief Ministers of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, Bhupesh Baghel and Ashok Gehlot, have also written to Mr. Modi. Before any AIS officer is called for Central deputation, his or her concurrence is required. The Establishment Officer in DoPT invites nominations from State governments. Once the nomination is received, their eligibility is scrutinised by a panel and then an offer list is prepared, usually done with the State government on board. Central ministries and offices can then choose from the list of officers on offer. AIS officers are recruited by the Union and they are lent to States. The publication of the offer list on DoPT’s website was discontinued by the government in 2018 amid reports that not many State government officers were willing to move to the Centre.