Senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka Friday termed the appointment of IPS officer OP Singh as Principal Secretary (Sports) as “defective and illegal”. In a letter to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Khemka, who had earlier held the post, said that the rank of Principal Secretary is a cadre post of IAS officers, which they get only after years of seniority.
“Appointment of an outsider to the post of Principal Secretary without affording equal opportunity to others similarly placed is violative of Articles 14 & 16 of the Constitution of India. IAS is the top choice of civil service aspirants and those who could not enter the IAS through the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) cannot hold a cadre post of the IAS through the back door,” Khemka’s letter to Khattar reads.
In a major administrative reshuffle on Wednesday, the Haryana government issued transfer and posting orders of 23 IAS and two IPS officers, including that of OP Singh. The IPS officer, who is also the special officer (community policing and outreach) in the Chief Minister’s office, had previously held the charge of director, sports, too.
The rank of Principal Secretary (Sports and Youth Affairs) on which OP Singh has been appointed is a cadre post. Raising strong objections to the appointment, Khemka said, “Only a cadre officer can occupy a cadre post and appointment to a cadre post cannot be made without following the procedure established in the rules. The recommendation of the Civil Services Board, chaired by the Chief Secretary, is mandatory for appointment to a cadre post of the IAS. It is not only unfortunate, but illegal if the officers of CMO replace the Civil Services Board in the matter of transfers and postings of IAS and IPS officers. However, being the competent authority, you have full powers under the rules to amend, modify or reject the recommendations of the Civil Services Board with reasons in writing”.
Currently, there are 16 officers of the rank of Principal Secretary against 12 sanctioned posts in Haryana. “Unfortunately, some Principal Secretaries are either under-employed or posted in lower posts. The appointment of an IPS officer as Principal Secretary without vacancy is a drain on the public resources. Unless the IPS officer is surplus in his own cadre, he must serve in his own cadre post,” Khemka further wrote in his letter.
Calling it a “bad precedent”, Khemka said, “As brought out in a masterly insight by the two brilliant Harvard Professors, Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson, in their celebrated book – Why Nations Fail – it is strong institutions that make a nation great. I have faith that as Chief Minister you will protect the constitutional institution of the All India Services created under Article 312 by the visionary leader, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel”.
Reached for comments, a senior government functionary said, “Such transfers are done by the chief minister only. I will not be able to comment on it”.
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