Faced with roadblock on IAS cadre rules amendment, Centre puts decision on indefinite hold – ET Government

The Centre’s move to amend the IAS service rules intended to empower it to overrule states with regards to the Central deputation of bureaucrats seems to have faced with a strong resistance from stakeholders. At least nine states — Odisha, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan — have objected to the proposed amendments, according to official sources.

In a reply to an RTI query on August 29, the Centre has said it is examining the responses received from various stakeholders on the proposed changes to the IAS service rules that seek to empower it to overrule states on matters related to the Central deputation of bureaucrats, and that a decision is yet to be taken.

The existing rules allow mutual consultation over the central deputation of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers.

Crux of the matter
The crux of the matter was that the Centre wanted to add provision 6(1) which states: “Provided that in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Central Government; and the State Government or State Governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government.”

When the states were asked to give their consent to the draft before ratifying it in the Parliament, most of them opposed the proposed amendment terming it as an attempt to grab their powers by the Centre. And the matter is in the cold storage for over six months now.

In the reply, the department of personnel and training (DoPT) declined to share copies of communication received from states in this regard. It also refrained from sharing details on action taken on the states’ responses, citing a clause of the transparency law that exempts disclosure of such information held by it in a “fiduciary relationship”.

The DoPT had in December last year proposed changes to the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954, that will take away the power of states to override the Centre’s request for seeking the officers on central deputation, and had sought comments from the states and Union territories on it.

“The comments/inputs received from various state cadres/joint cadres and other stakeholders on the proposal are presently under examination, and a final view of the government of India on the matter is yet to be taken,” the DoPT said in reply to the RTI application.

“In this view, the information sought is held in a fiduciary relationship and exempted from disclosure in terms of Section 8 (1) (e) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005,” it said in the reply sent on August 29.

The section exempts “information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information”.

DoPT officials said a trend of decreasing representation of IAS officers, up to the joint secretary-level at the Centre, has been noticed as most of the states are not meeting their Central Deputation Reserve (CDR) obligations and the number of officers sponsored by them to serve at the Centre is much lesser.

IAS officers are allocated a cadre, which is either a state or a group of states, or states and Union territories. Every cadre is allowed a CDR to ensure that officers have the opportunity to work on central deputation, which adds to their experience.

Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh had in February informed the Parliament that the states were not sponsoring an adequate number of officers for central deputation, and this prompted changes in the service rules.

Singh, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, had said that the Indian Administrative Service (Fixation of Cadre Strength) Regulations, 1955, contain a provision for a central deputation reserve not exceeding 40 percent of the senior duty posts of a cadre or joint cadre.

“However, state governments have not been sponsoring adequate number of officers for central deputation. In order to address the above issue, comments have been sought from states/UTs, in terms of the provisions contained in Section 3 of All India Services Act, 1951 on a proposal to amend Rule 6(1) of IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954,” he had said.

At least nine states— Odisha, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan — have objected to the proposed amendments, officials said. On the other hand, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are understood to have given their consent, the sources said.

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