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What is the context?
The Centre has recently proposed amendments to the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954 to exercise stronger control in the central deputation of IAS officers from different states.
History of All India Services
It was Sardar Patel who had championed the creation of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS) as “All India Services” (AIS) whose members would be recruited and appointed by the Centre and allotted to various States, and who could serve both under the State and the Centre.
He considered the AIS essential to knit the administrative framework of a vast and diverse country into an integrated whole and to provide a connecting link between implementation at the field level and policymaking at the top.
What are the rules regarding the Central deputation in the Indian Administrative Service?
Rules regarding the Central deputation in the Indian Administrative Service are mentioned under Rule-6 (1) of the IAS (Cadre) Rules-1954.
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.”
What are the normal conventions followed in Central Deputation?
The normal convention followed in central deputation includes
- AIS officers were offered central deputation through a consultative process involving the Centre, the States and the officers concerned.
- The States devised an “offer list” of officers who had chosen for central deputation.
- The Centre would select officials from among those “on offer” from the States.
- The States would relieve the officers chosen by the Centre at the earliest.
- No officer was sent on central deputation against his/her own will.
What are the Proposed Amendments to IAS (Cadre) Rules-1954?
The proposed amendments include
- The Centre will determine the actual number of officers to be deputed to the Central government in consultation with the State. The States list the eligible names of such officers.
- If the States delays relieving a State cadre officer to the Centre, “the officer shall stand relieved from cadre from the date as may be specified by the Central government.”
- In a situation where the services of cadre officers are essential for the Central government in “public interest,” the State should give effect to the Center’s decisions within a specified time.
- In case of any disagreement between the Centre and the State, the matter shall be decided by the Central government.
What are the reasons for the Amendments?
The Central deputation has gone down
- According to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the number of central deputation reserves of IAS officers has reduced from 309 in 2011 to 223 in 2021. It also pointed out that the Central deputation has gone down from 25% in 2011 to 18% in 2021, despite the increase of IAS officers at the Deputy Secretary/Director level in IAS from 621 in 2014 to 1130 in 2021, the number of such officers on central deputation has gone down from 117 to 114 during the period.
- Only 10% of mid-level IAS officers were posted with the Union government in 2021, compared to 19% in 2014, even with an 80% increase in the number of officers from 621 in 2014 to 1130 in 2021
- Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) mentioned that various state cadres are not offering an adequate number of officers for central deputation. Resulting in an insufficient number of officers for central deputation to meet the requirement.
Role of politics
- Both the Centre and the States have at times flouted these healthy and normal conventions for political considerations.
- In July 2001, the Centre unilaterally “placed at its disposal” the services of three IPS officers of Tamil Nadu cadre.
- In December 2020, the Centre did the same in respect of three IPS officers of the West Bengal cadre.
- In May 2021, the Centre unilaterally issued orders for the central deputation of the Chief Secretary of West Bengal just before his last day in service. In all these cases, the States concerned refused to relieve the officers.
- Some States used to vindictively withhold the names of some of the officers who had opted for central deputation or delay their relief after they were picked up by the Centre.
- The proposed amendment more or less compels a state government to offer IAS officers for central deputation even when these officers themselves may not wish to go on central deputation.
What are the major issues associated with the recently proposed amendments?
- It affects the administration of States as these amendments mandate the state to relieve officers in a prescribed timeline could affect the administration of states.
- It is against the wish of personnel as these amendments compels the State government to offer IAS officers for central deputation even against the wish of the officers themselves.
- It will lead to the centralization of power as the centre will try to equip itself with overriding powers to transfer IAS and IPS officers through Central deputation.
- It is against the spirit of cooperative federalism as the proposed amendment compels the State governments to make the number of officers available for deputation as prescribed under the Central Deputation Reserve.
- In the “S.R. Bommai” judgement, the Supreme Court held that “States have an independent constitutional existence and they have as important a role to play in the life of the people”.
- Co-operative federalism can be seen as a way forward keeping the larger national interest in mind.