Citing Sardar Patel, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot urges PM to lay aside proposed amendment to IAS Cadre Rules

Gehlot urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to personally intervene and shelve the proposed amendment in the best interest and spirit of the federalism developed by the framers of the Constitution

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot (L) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R)
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot (L) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R)

Prakash Bhandari

Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is fast emerging as the voice of the people of the non-BJP states. In the past two and a half years, he has raised numerous issues relating to the Centre-state relationship and he is the only Chief Minister, who takes the bull by its horn on various issues involving the federal system of our democracy.

Gehlot was most vocal during the Corona pandemic and also on issues related to the GST’s shares. He is known for shooting letters to the Prime Minister on various issues relating to the states and its interest.

Gehlot has now picked up cudgels against the Prime Minister on the issue of the Centre’s proposal to amend the IAS (Cadre ) rules 1954 saying that the proposed amendment in the deputation rules of the IAS is against the spirit of cooperative federalism and it is bound to make the services weaker.

Prior to Gehlot, West Bengal’s Chief Minister had taken up the issue mildly, but Gehlot has come out strong on the issue citing various reasons.

“The proposed amendment is going to affect the spirit of the cooperative federalism of our Constitution. This will violate the Constitutional jurisdiction prescribed for the Central and state governments and will reduce the spirit of working fearlessly and faithfully in the All India Services (AIS) officers posted in the various states and elsewhere," he said in a letter to the prime minister.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Gehlot quoted the country's first Home Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel during the debate on All India Services in the Constituent Assembly on October 10, 1949, when Sardar said “If you want an efficient All India Service, I would you to give an opportunity to the services to express themselves freely. If you are a service recipient, it will be your duty to allow your secretary, or Chief Secretary of a state, or other services under you to express their opinion without fear or favour. Without it, you will not have Akhand Bharat. A good all-India Service would be one in which there is the freedom to speak your mind, in which there is a sense of security that you can stick to your word and where the rights and privileges are protected.”

Quoting Sardar Patel, Gehlot stressed that in light of the pious views of Sardar Patel, the amendment is contrary to the basic spirit of the Constitution.

What are the proposed amendments?

“The Union Personnel Ministry has decided to amend existing service rules to ensure the availability of a sufficient number of IAS officers for Central deputation. The proposal which will give a greater say to the Union government came as various state/joint cadres were found to be not sponsoring an adequate number of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers as part of the central deputation reserve even though the ministry had flagged the issue several times.

As a result of this, the number of officers available for central deputation is not sufficient to meet the requirement at the Union government, the Personnel Ministry said in the proposal seeking changes in the IAS (cadre) Rules, 1954. The proposed amendments are being strongly opposed by the states.

Seeking to change the rules, the Union government has proposed that each state government shall make available for deputation to the Union government such a number of eligible officers of various levels to the extent of the Central Deputation Reserve prescribed under existing regulations, adjusted proportionately by the number of officers available with the state government concerned vis-a-vis the total authorised strength of the state cadre at a given point of time.

The actual number of officers to be deputed to the Union government shall be decided by it in consultation with the state government concerned, the new rule proposes. In case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Union government and the state government or state governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Union government within a specified time, it has proposed. Existing rules did not mention any time limit for deciding on such disagreement.

The proposal to change the rules was sent to the chief secretaries of all the state governments on December 20, 2021. They were asked to furnish their comments by January 5, 2022. The Union government had in June last year asked all state governments to nominate more officers for central deputation at the level of deputy secretary, director and joint secretary, citing their shortage.

Officers of the level of deputy secretary/director and above are usually appointed in Union government ministries/ departments (i.e. on central deputation) under the Central Staffing Scheme (CSS). Every cadre from a state/states or states and union territories -- is allowed a deputation reserve to ensure that officers have the opportunity to work on deputation including that under the Central Staffing Scheme, which adds to their experience.

"It is requested that a larger number of officers may kindly be recommended for the appointment at DS/Director/JS level under the Central Staffing Scheme so that the central deputation reserve/ deputation reserves are duly utilised for this purpose", the Personnel Ministry had said in a communique.

Reacting to the proposed amendment, Gehot said that after the amendments, the Union government will be able to call the officers on deputation without the consent of the state government where the officer has been posted under the cadre allotment.

Gehlot said that the framers of our Constitution thoughtfully conceptualised the All India Services keeping in view the public welfare and the spirit of federalism.

“ With this amendment, the services conceptualized by Sardar Patel will weaken and the goals set by the Constitution would be further weakened. These proposed amendments will also affect the prevailing relations between the Centre and the state in the matter of postings of the officers. The proposed amendments will affect the state administration due to the lack of consent of the states in the deputation of the officers. The state will also face a shortage of officers in the implementation of its plans and policies.”

Gehlot urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to personally intervene and shelve the proposed amendment in the best interest and spirit of the federalism developed by the framers of the Constitution

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