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News: Recently the chief minister of West Bengal and other states objected to the central government’s proposed amendments to the rules governing the deputation of IAS officers.
What are the amendments proposed by the government?
Read: What are the proposed amendments to Rule 6 (deputation of cadre officers)?
Why changes are proposed?
First, IAS officers are recruited, appointed, and trained by the central government and allotted to various state cadres. But IAS officers are mandated to serve not only the state cadre to which they belong but also the central government whenever they are called upon to do so.
Second, the central government has the ultimate authority in matters relating to the service conditions. The state governments also have a participating role in these matters by way of the relevant rules.
Third, Senior positions in the central government from the level of deputy secretary/ director to the secretary are manned by IAS officers on central deputation and officers from other services for their domain knowledge.
Fourth, there is a steep fall in the number of officers going on central deputation from 69% of the mandated reserves in 2014 to 30% in 2021.
What are the issues associated with the proposed amendments?
One, states should be consulted to make any drastic changes in the rules to ensure effective governance and cooperative federalism.
Two, officers of the IAS are under the dual control of the state governments and the central government, as the latter is their appointing authority.
Three, the scheme and structure of the IAS are based on sharing of power in order to enable both the Centre and states to utilize the officers’ services.
Fourth, grassroots-level administration remains with the states. Hence, any arbitrary and sudden transfers of officers from the states to the Centre will undermine governance in the state.
Fifth, states consider it as an infringement of the right to govern through their institutions of governance.
What is the way forward?
First, there is a need to review the conditions of service in the Centre and their standards, which has made central deputation a less attractive option.
Second, other issues like selection systems at higher levels and uncertainty regarding tenures of service for IAS officers on central deputation shall be re-examined.
Third, the solution to this problem lies in Cooperative federalism. The consultation process should include the officers to decide whether the proposed amendments are in the right direction. It should all be done without undermining the authority and functional efficiency and causing undue distress to officers.
Source: This post is based on the article “Rules for a Civil Service” published in Times of India on 25th Jan 2022.