'Turning Federal Structure Upside-Down': Ex Officers on New Proposed IAS Cadre Rules

109 former officers of All India Services (AIS) have issued a statement on the changes to the IAS Cadre Rules proposed by the Department of Personnel and Training, raising concerns on unilateral powers the changes will bestow on the Union government.

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New Delhi: The Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), a collective of former All India and Central Services officers, issued a statement on Thursday, January 27, detailing the objections of its members to the proposed amendments to the Indian Administrative Services (Cadre) Rules, 1954 issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on January 12.

The DoPT, in its January 12 letter to the chief secretaries of all state governments, proposed to give the Union government unilateral power to put officers from All India Services (AIS) on deputation at the centre after which the officers would “stand relieved” from their respective state cadre, irrespective of whether the respective state government gives its consent to the deputation.

In its statement, the CCG underlines the thought behind the existing federal structure of AIS – which encompasses the IAS, the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Forestry Service (IFoS) – cadres and appointments and then goes on to detail the possible adverse effects of the Union government’s proposed changes. 

The statement begins by saying that, within India’s federal structure, the Union and state governments need to work in tandem to achieve “common constitutional objectives” and within this structure, the AIS create an administrative framework to provide “balance” between these two levels of government. “Maintaining this balance is critical to good governance,” the statement reads.

Also read: Why The Centre’s Proposed Amendments To IAS Cadre Rules Are Drawing Flak

Here, the CCG statement highlights two unique features of the conceptual design of the administrative services in India:

The first, according to the statement, is that the AIS are included in the main body of the constitution, thereby being part of the constitution itself and not a part of the Executive. “For Sardar Patel, this feature was critical to guaranteeing members of the AIS their independence and their ability to speak their mind,” the statement reads.

The CCG notes that this fact not only provides AIS officers with the protection of the constitution but also, in turn, tasks the officers with insulating the constitution from the “vicissitudes of politics” and “giving governance stability and endurance”.

The second unique feature of the AIS, according to the statement, is that the cadres lie between central and state power, “squarely in the middle of a federal, dual polity”.While the Union government recruits officers, they are all then divided into their “parent cadres” within their respective states. 

As such, the regional cadres “nurture” officers’ careers and create a unique perspective within each officer; a perspective that each officer brings to the Union when they are borrowed for a central posting. “The proposed amendment to the Cadre Rules fundamentally alters this relationship and makes a mockery of the delicate federal balance that the AIS are designed to maintain,” the statement reads.

The statement says that by removing the state government’s authority entirely in this borrowing process for key senior management roles, the proposed changes threaten to turn the entire federal structure of the AIS on its head.

‘Strategic posts’

The CCG statement then goes on to talk about certain ‘strategic posts’ in the country which were designed to be the “exclusive preserve of members of the AIS’. According to the statement, the intent behind these posts was to ensure impartial selection and uniformly high standards through centralised recruitment and secondly, to act as a check against any divisive tendencies without sacrificing the autonomy of the states.

“Whatever else may be said about the AIS, their contribution to this spirit of ‘unity in diversity’ in administration has been singular. The proposed amendments in the Rules will adversely impact this distinctive design feature,” the statement reads.

Further, the statement says that the proposed changes have been “rushed” without sufficiently consulting the states and that the manner in which they have been pushed out “shows the present establishment’s by-now-familiar penchant for arbitrary exercise of centralised power”.

‘Self-evident implications’ of the proposed changes

The CCG notes that all the potential long-term consequences of the changes cannot be divined as yet but that certain implications are “self-evident”.

The first such consequence that the statement details is that the AIS, due to the disproportionate power the Union government will be vested with, will be effectively transformed into three more Central Services.

As such, it is possible that AIS officers would come to view state interests as secondary to the interests of the centre and the ruling party there. “AIS officers working in the state will be reluctant to take any decision or action against the wishes of the political party in power at the centre for fear of being summarily transferred to the centre and harassed there,” the statement reads.

Further, according to the CCG, this could result in states favouring their own State Civil Services and consequently, in states distrusting their AIS cadres. Thus, states may eventually reduce posts meant exclusively for the AIS and open them up to state services, “thereby seriously undermining Ambedkar’s intention of maintaining uniformly high administrative standards across the country, free of any regional biases.“

A diminished role of the AIS in the state would affect the “unifying role” they play in the context of federal diversity. This, the statement says, will allow the Union government to abuse their inordinate power whenever it is unhappy with the state government and “target” AIS officers holding strategic posts (for example, chief secretary, home secretary, director general of police, principal chief conservator of forests, district magistrate, superintendent of police and the like.).

The Union government could then withdraw these officers from their posts and effectively derail the functioning of the state’s administration.

Finally, the statement reads: “The introduction of an element of compulsion in cadre management and doing away with a robust and healthy system of federal consultation, consent/concurrence and coordination   will severely impact the morale of the AIS. This will eventually make careers in the AIS unattractive.”

In light of these possibilities, the statement calls the proposed changes to the IAS Cadre Rules, “arbitrary, unreasonable and unconstitutional”. “They interfere with the basic structure of the Constitution of India as a Union of states and can cause irreparable damage to the one institution which Sardar Patel held as being the most critical to the unity of the country,” the statement reads.

In conclusion, the statement quotes from Patel’s speech to the Constituent Assembly in October, 1949, where he said, “The Union will go, you will not have a united India if you have not a good All India Service which has the independence to speak out its mind, which has a sense of security….”

“Will a government which holds the Sardar in higher esteem than any other figure in the history of the freedom movement pay heed to his words and drop the proposal to change the AIS Cadre Rules?” the statement concludes.

Full list of signatories

Anita Agnihotri, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Department of Social Justice Empowerment, Union government.

Salahuddin Ahmad, IAS (Retired), Former Chief Secretary, Government of Rajasthan

V.S. Ailawadi, IAS (Retired), Former Vice Chairman, Delhi Development Authority

S.P. Ambrose, IAS (Retired), Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, Union government.

Anand Arni, RAS (Retired), Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Union government.

J.L. Bajaj, IAS (Retired), Former Chairman, Administrative Reforms and Decentralisation Commission, Government of Uttar Pradesh

G. Balachandhran, IAS (Retired), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal.

Vappala Balachandran, IPS (Retired), Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Union government.

Gopalan Balagopal, IAS (Retired), Former Special Secretary, Government of West Bengal.

Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Coal, Union government.

Rana Banerji, RAS (Retired), Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Union government.

Sharad Behar, IAS (Retired), Former Chief Secretary, Government of Madhya Pradesh.

Aurobindo Behera, IAS (Retired),Former Member, Board of Revenue, Government of Odisha.

Madhu Bhaduri, IFS (Retired), Former Ambassador to Portugal.

Pradip Bhattacharya, IAS (Retired), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Development & Planning and Administrative Training Institute, Government of West Bengal.

Meeran C. Borwankar, IPS (Retired), Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, Union government.

Ravi Budhiraja, IAS (Retired), Former Chairman, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Union government.

Sundar Burra, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Government of Maharashtra

Chandramohan, IAS (Retired), Former Principal Secretary, Transport and Urban Development, Government of NCT of Delhi.

Rachel Chatterjee, IAS (Retired), Former Special Chief Secretary, Agriculture, Government of Andhra Pradesh.

Kalyani Chaudhuri, IAS (Retired), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal.

Gurjit Singh Cheema, IAS (Retired), Former Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Government of Punjab.

F.T.R. Colaso, IPS (Retired), Former Director General of Police, Government of Karnataka & former Director General of Police, Government of Jammu & Kashmir.

Anna Dani, IAS (Retired), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra

Vibha Puri Das, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Union government.

P.R. Dasgupta, IAS (Retired), Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, Union government.

Pradeep K. Deb, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Department Of Sports, Union government.

Nitin Desai. Former Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, Union government.

M.G. Devasahayam, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Government of Haryana.

Sushil Dubey, IFS (Retired), Former Ambassador to Sweden.

A.S. Dulat, IPS (Retired), Former OSD on Kashmir, Prime Minister’s Office, Union government.

K.P. Fabian, IFS (Retired), Former Ambassador to Italy.

Prabhu Ghate, IAS (Retired), Former Addl. Director General, Department of Tourism, Union government.

Arif Ghauri, IRS (Retired), Former Governance Adviser, DFID, Government of the United Kingdom (on deputation).

Gourisankar Ghosh, IAS (Retired), Former Mission Director, National Drinking Water Mission, Union government.

Suresh K. Goel, IFS (Retired), Former Director General, Indian Council of Cultural Relations, Union government.

S.K. Guha, IAS (Retired), Former Joint Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development, Union government.

H.S. Gujral, IFoS (Retired), Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Government of Punjab.

Meena Gupta, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Union government.

Ravi Vira Gupta, IAS (Retired), Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India.

Vivek Harinarain, IAS (Retired), Government of Tamil Nadu.

Siraj Hussain, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Union government.

Kamal Jaswal, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Union government.

Najeeb Jung, IAS (Retired), Former Lieutenant Governor, Delhi.

Ajai Kumar, IFoS (Retired), Former Director, Ministry of Agriculture, Union government.

Ish Kumar, IPS (Retired), Former DGP (Vigilance & Enforcement), Government of Telangana and former Special Rapporteur, National Human Rights Commission.

Sudhir Kumar, IAS (Retired), Former Member, Central Administrative Tribunal.

B.B. Mahajan, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Deptt. of Food, Union government.

Harsh Mander, IAS (Retired), Government of Madhya Pradesh.

Amitabh Mathur, IPS (Retired), Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Union government.

Aditi Mehta, IAS (Retired), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Rajasthan.

Shivshankar Menon, IFS (Retired), Former Foreign Secretary and Former National Security Adviser.

Sonalini Mirchandani, IFS (Resigned), Union government.

Malay Mishra, IFS (Retired), Former Ambassador to Hungary.

Sunil Mitra, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Union government.

Noor Mohammad, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, Government of India.

Avinash Mohananey, IPS (Retired), Former Director General of Police, Government of Sikkim

Satya Narayan Mohanty, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission.

Deb Mukharji, IFS (Retired), Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal.

Gautam Mukhopadhaya, IFS (Retired), Former Ambassador to Myanmar.

Pranab S. Mukhopadhya, IAS (Retired), Former Director, Institute of Port Management, Union government.

T.K.A. Nair, IAS (Retired), Former Adviser to Prime Minister of India.

Surendra Nath, IAS (Retired), Former Member, Finance Commission, Government of Madhya Pradesh.

P.A. Nazareth, IFS (Retired), Former Ambassador to Egypt and Mexico.

Joy Oommen, IAS (Retired), Former Chief Secretary, Government of Chhattisgarh.

Amitabha Pande, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, Union government.

Maxwell Pereira, IPS (Retired), Former Joint Commissioner of Police, Delhi.

Alok Perti, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Ministry of Coal, Union government.

G.K. Pillai, IAS (Retired), Former Home Secretary, Union government.

Poornalingam, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, Union government.

Sharda Prasad, IAS (Retired), Former Director General (Employment and Training), Ministry of Labour and Employment, Union government.

Rajesh Prasad, IFS (Retired), Former Ambassador to the Netherlands.

Rajdeep Puri, IRS (Resigned), Former Joint Commissioner of Income Tax, Union government.

N.K. Raghupathy, IAS (Retired), Former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, Union government.

V.P. Raja, IAS (Retired), Former Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission

Babu Rajeev, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Union government.

Sujatha Rao, IAS (Retired), Former Health Secretary, Union government.

Satwant Reddy, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Union government.

Vijaya Latha Reddy, IFS (Retired), Former Deputy National Security Adviser, Union government.

Julio Ribeiro, IPS (Retired), Former Adviser to Governor of Punjab & former Ambassador to Romania.

Aruna Roy, IAS (Resigned).

Manabendra N. Roy, IAS (Retired), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal.

A.K. Samanta, IPS (Retired), Former Director General of Police (Intelligence), Government of West Bengal.

Deepak Sanan, IAS (Retired), Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Government of Himachal Pradesh.

S. Satyabhama, IAS (Retired), Former Chairperson, National Seeds Corporation, Union government.

N.C. Saxena, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Planning Commission, Union government.

A. Selvaraj, IRS (Retired), Former Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Chennai, Union government.

Ardhendu Sen, IAS (Retired), Former Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal.

Abhijit Sengupta, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Union government.

Aftab Seth, IFS (Retired), Former Ambassador to Japan.

Ashok Kumar Sharma, IFoS (Retired), Former MD, State Forest Development Corporation, Government of Gujarat.

Ashok Kumar Sharma, IFS (Retired), Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia.

Navrekha Sharma, IFS (Retired), Former Ambassador to Indonesia

Pravesh Sharma, IAS (Retired), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Madhya Pradesh.

Raju Sharma, IAS (Retired), Former Member, Board of Revenue, Government of Uttar Pradesh.

Rashmi Shukla Sharma, IAS (Retired), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Madhya Pradesh.

Ajai Vikram Singh, IAS (Retired), Former Defence Secretary, Union government.

Mukteshwar Singh, IAS (Retired), Former Member, Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission.

Ramesh Inder Singh, IAS (Retired), Former Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab and former Chief Information Commissioner, Punjab.

Sujatha Singh, IFS (Retired), Former Foreign Secretary, Union government.

Tara Ajai Singh, IAS (Retired), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka.

Tirlochan Singh, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, National Commission for Minorities, Union government.

Narendra Sisodia, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Union government.

Parveen Talha, IRS (Retired), Former Member, Union Public Service Commission.

Anup Thakur, IAS (Retired), Former Member, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

P.S.S. Thomas, IAS (Retired), Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission.

Hindal Tyabji, IAS (Retired), Former Chief Secretary rank, Government of Jammu & Kashmir.

Jawed Usmani, IAS (Retired), Former Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh & former Chief Information Commissioner, Uttar Pradesh.

Ramani Venkatesan, IAS (Retired), Former Director General, YASHADA, Government of Maharashtra.