Taking a serious view of the promotion of 15 IAS officers to the post of additional chief secretary (ACS) in the Haryana Government in the pay grade of chief secretary without approval from the Centre during the past few years, state Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has sought a report from the state government.
The PAC consisting of nine MLAs is headed by Panchkula BJP MLA Gian Chand Gupta. A member of the committee told The Indian Express Tuesday that the PAC, in a recent meeting, had asked Chief Secretary DS Dhesi to send a report on these promotions to the committee within three months.
The member said that the PAC had taken the action on the basis of a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) which in 2014 had pointed out that “the appointments were made without constituting the Screening Committee resulting in irregular expenditure of Rs 5.37 crore”. Sources say this extra expenditure was caused because of the difference in the salary, allowances and facilities of additional chief secretaries and principal secretaries.
When the issue was raised by the CAG in January 2014, there were only 12 IAS officers who had been promoted to the post of additional chief secretary (ACS) from principal secretary against the sanctioned strength of three. But by now, 21 officers have been promoted to the post of ACS against the sanctioned strength of three. Two of these 21 ACS level officers have already retired.
“Apart from these three officers, the government can also promote three more IAS officers to the post of ACS as ex-cadre officers. We have asked the Chief Secretary why sanction was not taken before appointing 15 officers as ACS,” said another member of the committee.
According to the documents accessed by The Indian Express, the then chief secretary had informed the CAG auditors in January 2014 that “there was very less financial implication in promoting the officers to the additional chief secretary’s (ACS) grade as all of them had reached the maximum of their pay scales; as such, total expenditure of their pay and allowances amounting to Rs 5.37 crore may not be treated as irregular”.
The chief secretary had also told the auditors that “this time (for promotions to be made in 2014), a screening committee was constituted headed by the chief secretary and an additional secretary-level officer from GOI was also present in the meeting”.
Notably, the CS had also stated that “the State Government would continue to operate these posts of ACSs in future also due to the requirement of work and this was being done by almost all the states”.
However, the CAG auditors said, “The contention of the CS was not acceptable as the appointment of excess posts as against the prescribed strength was irregular and against the instructions of GOI (Govt of India)… the expenditure on the pay and allowances was treated as irregular because officers were allowed chief secretary’s grade in contravention to the rules and GOI instructions.”
Dhesi did not respond to the phone call and text message sent on his mobile.