Alleging discrimination, officers from the government’s non-IAS central services have sent a petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claiming that those from services other than the IAS are not being picked for top posts of Secretaries and Additional Secretaries. Arguing their case, the Confederation of Civil Service Associations has added to the petition a record of how the number of non-IAS Group A Service officers posted as Secretaries has declined over the years. This occurred even though the rules of Central Staffing Scheme state that the scheme was devised for the Centre’s need for fresh inputs at senior levels from diverse sources, like the All India Services and organised Group A services.
It shows that while 15 officers from Group A services were posted as Secretaries in 1972, the number decreased to five in 2015. In comparison, the number of officers in All India Services, including IAS officers holding Secretary posts, increased from 30 to 73 during the same period.
The twist, officers say, lay in a modification of Central Staffing Scheme in 2001, wherein a line was inserted to the effect that there would be a two-year gap between officers from the IAS getting Secretary and Additional Secretary ranks and those from other services getting them even if they happen to be from the same batch.
The 2001 modification “formalised” this arrangement with one line: “… it would continue to be ensured that, for empanelment of officers of various Central Services Group A for appointment to the Secretary and Additional Secretary/equivalent at the Centre, there is a differential between the officers of the IAS and officers of other central services.”
“What this two-year difference does is that even if non-IAS officers are empanelled in Secretary/Additional Secretary ranks, they are not appointed to the posts of Secretary or Additional Secretary because they are not left with the requisite number of years in service — a criteria where the IAS officers get a clear edge. As a result, all the top posts are secured by officers from one service only,” said an officer of the confederation.
The petition to the PM has said the panel making these recommendations to Appointments Committee of the Cabinet is made up of Cabinet Secretary, Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training and Establishment Officer of DoPT— all three are always IAS officers. “…That’s why empanelment of other services to Secretary and Additional Secretary ranks is delayed and does not even happen every year. Whereas for IAS, the empanelment happens every year,” the petition says. “There is clear conflict of interest and the Screening Committee of Secretaries comprising of all IAS officers unduly favouring their own service,” it adds.
The petition demands reconstituting the Screening Committee in a manner that non-IAS officers are also included. Seeking parity, it requests for speedy empanelment of non-IAS officers in Secretary and Additional Secretary ranks before any more IAS batch is empanelled.
The 12 Group A Services that have petitioned the PM include the IPS, Revenue Services, the nine services in Railways, Audit and Accounts Service, Forest Service and Indian Information Service.