The proposed changes to the deputation rule for civil servants are becoming yet another issue in already strained Centre-state relations. Comment.
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.
- 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. 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 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.
- These changes amount to arm-twisting States and unwilling bureaucrats to be deputed to serve the Union government and also presenting a fait accompli to States for “specific situations” which have not been defined and prone to misinterpretation and politicisation.
- As governance responsibilities during the pandemic have shown, States are quite dependent upon the bureaucracy, and deputation to the Union government should not be done at the cost of State requirements
- Also, the Union government must address the key question of the reluctance of capable civil servants to be deputed away from the States.
- By insisting on officers to be made available for deputation through the proposed amendment, not only will the administration of States be affected but also it would become impossible to assess and plan the administration of a State – by engaging such officers who form part of the Central Deputation Reserve, fraught with the uncertainty of their sudden deputation by the Centre
Reports have indicated that civil servants have found the top-down culture in Union government offices to be stifling and prefer the relative autonomy at the State level. There is clearly a need for a more qualitative approach that tackles such work culture issues. Besides, a State-by-State look at deputation that disincentivises those States which depute officers much below the mandated numbers to the Union government by adjusting future cadre strength reviews by the Union Public Service Commission should also address the shortage problem.
How to structure
- Give an intro about the proposed change
- Explain in detail what the proposed changes are
- Explain how these changes can become another bone of contention the Centre state relations
- Suggest way forward and conclude