The dispute between a section of IAS officers in Kerala and state chief secretary E K Bharat Bhushan over their annual performance appraisal report (APAR) has escalated into an open confrontation between chief secretary and secretary-level officials.
Taking note of the row, CM Oommen Chandy told the Assembly Friday that former Union Cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekharan, now vice-chairman of Kerala planning board, has been asked to intervene. Meanwhile, Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan joined the attack on Bhushan, who was DGCA secretary before being made Kerala chief secretary last year. Bhushan has come under attack for reportedly including adverse remarks in the APAR of two secretary-level officials — Raju Narayanaswamy and Tom Jose.
The IAS Association is of the opinion the chief secretary does not have a right to review performance of secretaries, which should be done by the respective ministers.
Bhushan had responded saying it was his right to review the officials’ performance since the chief secretary is in charge of appointments, plan implementation and sanctioning official tours.
An IAS official pointed out that at the Centre, performance of ministry secretaries is reviewed by respective ministers, not the Union Cabinet secretary. “A chief secretary sees only 5 per cent of the performance of a secretary,” said the official.
The issue reached a flashpoint last week when Narayanaswamy complained to the IAS Association against Bhushan.
Narayanaswamy alleged the chief secretary was being vindictive since he had ordered the demolition of a few resorts in Munnar in 2007 against Bhushan’s interest. He also approached the CM. Prior to that, Bhushan had sought details about a land transaction of labour secretary Jose, president of the IAS Association.
As a section of IAS officials attacked chief secretary, Achuthanandan alleged Bhushan was not transparent in declaring his assets. He added his daughter’s overseas studies were financed by an airlines — an allegation Bhushan refuted. Bhushan also said he had not taken vindictive action against Narayanaswamy and Jose.