THE CENTRAL Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Chandigarh bench, has dismissed the plea of Haryana cadre IAS officer Ashok Khemka, seeking directions to the Centre to consider his empanelment for holding the post of additional secretary or an equivalent.
In his petition, Khemka had submitted that in the years, 2011 and 2012, he was empanelled for appointment to joint secretary/equivalent post in the Centre in the first consideration of 1991 batch of IAS officers. On October 9, 2019, names of 32 IAS officers of 1991 batch were notified for appointment to an additional secretary-level post at the Centre. However, Khemka’s name was not in it.
Khemka stated that he had earlier made a representation to the Union of India on June 26, 2018, wherein he had pointed out that he was not given an opportunity to serve at the Centre for no fault on his part and therefore, he should not be penalised by excluding him from consideration of empanelment. Khemka stated that he also offered himself for empanelment on several occasions first in 2000 as deputy secretary and then in 2011, 2012 and 2014 as joint secretary, and was placed in the offer list in 2011 and 2012 for appointment as joint secretary.
In 2014, the Civil Services Board made a specific recommendation to the appointments committee of the Cabinet for his appointment in the Prime Minister’s Office. However, he was not appointed at the Centre for no fault on his part, though he has outstanding performance appraisal reports in the last 12 years with an average grade of 9.66 out of 10, Khemka said. The right to serve at the Centre and the State as a member of All India Services is a constitutional right conferred under Article 16(1) read with Article 312, and the right to serve at the Centre cannot be arbitrarily taken away by making unreasonable classification wherein service in the top administrative rank in the state government is not counted, but service in a much junior rank in autonomous board is counted for consideration.
The Centre, state’s responses
The Union of India in reply submitted that empanelment at senior levels cannot be claimed as a matter of right and it is for the competent authority to decide the suitability of the officers for empanelment in terms of guidelines and instructions, and inclusion in the panel or retention of officer on the offer list does not confer any right to appointment at the Centre and officers on the offer list are picked up on the basis of availability of vacancies and suitability of officers for manning available vacancies.
The Haryana government meanwhile submitted that the Union of India is the competent authority to consider cases of members of Indian Administrative Service for empanelment to additional secretary or equivalent posts at the Centre.
The Tribunal bench after hearing the arguments held that the empanelment guidelines are quite clear and specifically exclude officers who have not served at the Centre on deputation for a period of three years at the level of deputy secretary and above, it is not disputed by the applicant himself that he does not fulfill these guidelines.
“…The applicant being a member of premier service would have been aware of these guidelines. It is normal expectation that if he was really keen to serve at the Centre, he should have taken sincere and sustained efforts to fulfill the eligibility criteria…,” read the tribunal order.
The tribunal further held, “…Central Staffing Scheme clearly provides that appointment under Union Government under Central Staffing pattern is not a matter of right…Even the applicant has not challenged the Central Staffing Scheme. These posts are ex-cadre posts in which officers who are members of various specified services including IAS, IPS and other central services are appointed…”
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