Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Amendments to IAS (Cadre) Rules explainer: Why are states opposing Modi govt’s move?

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New Delhi: Centre and state relations are once again tense in the country over the Modi govt's proposed amendments to IAS (Cadre) Rules. On Sunday, Kerala's CM Pinarayi Vijayan and Tamil Nadu's CM MK Stalin joined the list of non-BJP ruled states' Chief Ministers who have emphatically opposed the central government's proposed changes to the assignment rules of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers. So far, the states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have written to the Prime Minister opposing the changes.

The proposed amendments are being seen as the Centre’s move to exercise greater control in deciding the central deputation of IAS officers. Every now and then, states have been at odds with the Centre over posting of the IAS officials and most of the time, states have had their say in the matter. As of January 1, 2021, 458 IAS officers were on central deputation out of around 5,200 IAS officers in the country.

Decoding the amendments to IAS (Cadre) Rules

So let's try to understand the current state of IAS (Cadre) Rules and what are the changes the govt has proposed, also, what is the rationale behind it. At present, the central deputation of IAS officials is covered under Rule 6(1) of the IAS (Cadre) Rules-1954 and it came into effect in May 1969. It says, “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.”

It says that in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the central government and the state government or state governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the central government.

What are the changes govt wants to make in IAS (Cadre) Rules?

The central government had expressed concern over the declining number of IAS officers on the central deputation. On December 20, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) wrote to many state governments saying that state/joint cadres are not sending an adequate number of IAS officers for central deputation, as part of the Central Deputation Reserve. It then proposed to insert an additional condition in Rule 6(1) giving a greater say to the Centre in deciding the central deputation of the IAS officers. The proposed amendment says, “Provided that each State Government shall make available for deputation to the Central Government, such number of eligible officers of various levels to the extent of the Central Deputation Reserve prescribed under Regulations referred to in Rule 4(1), adjusted proportionately by the number of officers available with the State Government concerned vis-à-vis the total authorized strength of the State cadre at a given point of time. 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 that in case of any disagreement, the state government shall ‘give effect to the decision of the Central Government’ and that too within a specified time. The Central government has said that in specific situations where services of cadre officers are required by it in the public interest, ‘the Central Government may seek the services of such officers for posting under the Central Government.’

Which states are opposing the amendments to IAS (Cadre) Rules?

Almost all non-BJP ruled states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have opposed the changes. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee had written two letters within a gap of eight days to Prime Minister Narendra Modi opposing the move, calling the amendments ‘draconian’ and against the ‘foundations of great federal polity and the basic structure of India’s Constitutional scheme’. Speaking at a function yesterday to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, she said the amendment would “create a fear psychosis among officers and impact their performance”. Banerjee had also warned the PM of ‘greater movements’ in case the Centre does not reconsider its decision.

The amendments to the IAS Cadre Rules proposed by the centre "strike at the very root" of the nation's federal polity and state autonomy, Tamil Nadu CM Stalin said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said that if implemented, the proposed amendments would cause irreparable damage to the spirit of cooperative federalism and would lead to the concentration of powers in the union government. He also accused the Central government of following wrong cadre management policies leading to the shortage of officers at the state level. 

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan also sent a similar letter, urging the government to drop the move, saying it will create "fear psychosis" among civil service officials to implement the state government policies. “The proposed amendments in the Deputation Rules of All India Services will definitely induce a fear psychosis and an attitude of hesitancy among All India Service Officers to implement policies of a state government, which are formed by party/parties politically opposed by the ruling party at the Centre”, he wrote in the letter to the Centre.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot also have urged PM Modi not to go ahead with the amendment.

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