IAS officers in Bihar are angry, BJP, RJD smug. Here is why

An extraordinary ongoing protest has seen Bihar government officers wearing black badges to work in protest against a senior colleague’s arrest. But the issues are wider.

Written by Santosh Singh | Published:March 1, 2017 12:01 am
Bihar, Bihar corruption, IAS officer arrest, bihar ias officer arrest, patna ias officer arrest, nitish kumar, lalu prasad yadav, RJD, jitan ram manjhi, competitive exam leak bihar, exam corruption bihar Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at NIT Alumni meet in Patna on Sunday. PTI Photo

The Arrest and Controversy

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Patna Police recently arrested the chairman of the Bihar Staff Selection Commission (BSSC), Sudhir Kumar, an IAS officer of the 1987 batch, in connection with the leak of questions and answers of a competitive examination conducted by the Commission last month. The police accused Kumar of breaching confidentiality on the printing of question papers and OMR (optical mark recognition) sheets, which, they said, led to the leak of questions and answers during the second phase of the exam in the first week of February. About 17.5 lakh candidates had appeared for the BSSC preliminary test for posts of clerks and assistants. After questions and their answers went viral on WhatsApp an hour before the exam, the state government cancelled the entire exam and set up the SIT, which has so far arrested 30 people including Kumar and five of his relatives. The officer is accused of providing the set of questions in advance to five close relatives who were candidates.

The Protests and Reasons

IAS officers are upset for two reasons. First, the manner in which Kumar was arrested in the middle of the night from his Hazaribagh home when he was on sanctioned leave. Second, Kumar, who was Home Secretary when Jitan Ram Manjhi was Chief Minister, had faced no allegations in his 30-year career, and was widely seen as an upright officer. Kumar’s arrest has shaken IAS officers, who say they’re now afraid to take any important executive decision. The officers’ association has announced that its members would no longer act on verbal orders, even if they come from the CM’s office. The association has registered its protest with the CM, and IAS officers have been wearing black badges to work. As many as 125 serving and retired officers turned up for the IAS body’s meeting to discuss the way forward — among them were at least 30 District Magistrates who drove to Patna from their districts for the meeting.

Anger and Disappointment

IAS officers say Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s success story owes a lot to the high levels of trust that he has shown in them. And that this fundamental understanding between the officials and the political executive has been given a body blow by the police action against Kumar. Not only has it made it difficult for an IAS officer to agree to head a body that conducts competitive examinations, Nitish’s larger “Badhta Bihar” mission too runs the risk of slowing down if officials refuse to take major executive decisions, says the association. They had not protested after cases were filed against two of their colleagues in the service in recent years, but Kumar’s arrest has shaken them, the IAS officers say. The IAS body is demanding a probe by the CBI in the matter.

A second aspect of the controversy concerns the latent hostility between IAS and IPS officers, which has often been seen as coming to the fore in a range of situations and states. Speaking in private, several IAS officers demand to know why the police had failed to arrest two IPS officers, who too faced cases. It is unlikely that an IAS officer of Kumar’s seniority would be arrested without clearance from the state DGP and, probably, the office of the Chief Minister himself, these officers say.

The Political Angle

While the RJD has so far not officially taken a position on the officers’ protest, some individual leaders of Lalu Prasad’s party have backed Kumar, saying the police may have shown haste in arresting him. The RJD is aware of Nitish Kumar’s dependence on the bureaucracy, and sees an opportunity in the officials’ anger with his government. The CM may delay a decision on the demand to hand over the paperleak case to the CBI, but that is likely to result in a protracted battle between the bureaucracy and his government. The opposition BJP is standing behind the IAS officers, especially on the question of calling in the CBI. After all, a weaker Nitish Kumar suits both the RJD and the BJP.

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  1. A
    Mar 1, 2017 at 12:33 pm
    IAS officers behaving like a trade union ... blackmailing the government and public. Used to being above the law for too long.
    1. A
      Mar 1, 2017 at 6:47 am
      It is incomplete presentation of facts on Indian Express part. While the paper reports that IAS saying "will not take verbal order from even the CM, it fails to report did the CM issued a verbal order to leak the question paper? If such senior officer cant do what is right and buckles under alleged presure, how the officer under him are suppose to do otherwise when they issue verbal orders? If the said officer is framed by government how 5 family also got framed? Recently the tainted chief secretary of TN also criticized the government. Do IAS are ruled by some conduct code?
      1. A
        Anil Kumar
        Mar 1, 2017 at 2:43 pm
        जब तक आई .ए. एस. आफिसर लोग लालच करते रहगे तबतक राजनेताओं के व्दारा lt;br/gt;शोषन किया जाता रहेगा । इसको कहते है ग्यान वानो पर मुर्ख का राज्य करना । अभि भी समय है बिहार के आई. ए.एस. संभल जाए।
        1. S
          S Srinivasan
          Mar 1, 2017 at 7:11 am
          For a change,for the development of our country and for a mind to serving not theirlt;br/gt;political masters but to their true masters,the people from whom they get their ries,lt;br/gt;perks etc.the IAS,IPS and other officials,why not insist for written orders from thelt;br/gt;ministers.The result can be felt by the Babus,when they relax at home after retirement.lt;br/gt;The God will be on their side at all times if they remain upright during their servicelt;br/gt;time.
          1. K
            Mar 1, 2017 at 11:08 pm
            Leaking question papers to relatives has resulted in Bihari men ping IAS exams in large numbers. Sack all Biharis working in the IAS cadre. Bihar is like stan a failed state filled with crooks and murderers.
            1. D
              diwakar jha
              Mar 1, 2017 at 5:56 pm
              Govt. At this stage need to take firm step. Bowing down before bureaucracy will destabilize the faith of public in general over government. And it will also avail opportunity for Street level bureaucrats to raise voice over unethical issue.lt;br/gt;Politically CM needs to mitigate conflict between political executive and executive at implementing end.
              1. I
                Mar 2, 2017 at 2:51 am
                The said officer or any other must be arrested and punished as per law of the land. This is unethical to support corrupt officers. If the union of IAS officers support the corruption committed by their colleagues, then this is an open support to corruption which is not in the interest of the nation. Accountability is must be for everyone.
                1. M
                  Mahender Goriganti
                  Mar 1, 2017 at 7:14 pm
                  Fire all the Bihar IAS officers ( they are not laborers with union and labour rights) immediately and clean up with 'SWaach Bhart' broom.
                  1. P
                    Mar 1, 2017 at 8:36 am
                    That depends on your interpretation of honesty. Is it so surprising about paper leakage. No wonder, Bihar sends highest number of IAS and IPS officers.
                    1. S
                      Mar 1, 2017 at 10:08 am
                      I used to think that officers act only on written orders of ministers. The arrested officer may be the culprit but it is correct demand that ministers must give written orders to government employees.
                      1. S
                        Mar 1, 2017 at 8:40 am
                        The question here is not whether Kumar is an IAS officer, but whether he released the questions. Did the CM give verbal orders? Did he release the questions, knowing what he did was a criminal act? Was he trying to please the CM?
                        1. B
                          Mar 1, 2017 at 1:30 pm
                          Some IAS officers also responsible for 'Jungal Raj' / 'Caste Politics' in Bihar, they also responsible to ruin Bihar, now heat coming to them also. So let them to face !
                          1. U
                            Upender Pandey
                            Mar 1, 2017 at 5:03 pm
                            IAS officers are afraid of what.. taking decisions or of doing corruption. Here it seems they are supporting corrupt.
                            1. U
                              Upender Pandey
                              Mar 1, 2017 at 5:06 pm
                              Though ministers r responsible most of the time. But not on this instance as question papers were given to relatives os arrested officer.
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