Amendments to IAS (Cadre) Rules of 1954 and surrounding issues.
- The amendments proposed to Rule 6(1) of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) (Cadre) Rules of 1954, which seek to empower the Central government to unilaterally order the Central deputation of IAS officers without the consent of the State governments or the officers concerned, have provoked controversy.
- The Central government has justified them on the ground that the States are not meeting their Central Deputation Reserve (CDR) obligations because of which the Centre is suffering from an acute shortage of mid-level IAS officers, especially Deputy Secretaries and Directors.
About IAS Cadre Rules
- Officers are put at the disposal of state governments under the existing system. Except for times of central deputation under Rule 6(1), they serve in their allocated states for the duration of their service.
- For the deputation of officials to the Centre, the rules provide for a consultation procedure including the Union government, the state government, and the relevant officer.
Issues associated with IAS Cadra rules
- The proposed amendment is being opposed and criticised by several state governments for the following reasons:
- It will erode the political power of the state over the bureaucracy created under the constitutional structure.
- It will have an impact on state autonomy because officers may be hesitant to make decisions that favour the state government over the federal government.
- Finally, it will diminish AIS's importance in the perspective of state governments, who may prefer their own State Civil Services over AIS.
- Because state governments are in charge of grassroots administration and the execution of federal programmes, arbitrary and abrupt transfers of officials from the states to the federal government may be extremely disruptive, weakening state governance.
Causes of Shortage
- The first cause of the shortage was the drastic reduction in the annual recruitment of IAS officers after 1991 (from 140-160 to just 50-80) under the misguided notion that the government will have a reduced role due to economic liberalisation.
- As of January 1, 2021, the shortage of IAS officers at the all-India level was 23%. The number of IAS officers recruited annually should be increased to around 200 for a few years as a short-term measure.
- The second cause is lackadaisical “cadre review”. This is an exercise conducted jointly by the Centre and the States to designate certain strategic posts in the States as “cadre posts” and earmark them exclusively for IAS officers.
- The third cause is the ill-advised discontinuance of direct recruitment of officers to the Central Secretariat Service Group B since 2000, and undue delays in the regular promotions of officers from the ranks in the Central Secretariat due to protracted litigation since 2011. These officers used to occupy a sizeable proportion of Deputy Secretary/Director-level posts in the Central Secretariat.
- The fourth cause is the complete non-utilisation by the Centre of the services of officers who are appointed to the IAS by promotion or selection from the State Civil Services.
- The fifth cause is the numerous administrative barriers to Central deputation imposed by the Centre itself in the form of highly restrictive conditions, perverse incentives, annual lapsing of offer lists, long debarment periods, compulsory cooling-off periods, etc.
- It should be made mandatory for directly recruited IAS officers to serve at least three years on Central deputation between nine and 25 years of service.
- Their promotion to Principal Secretary grade in their State cadre (usually after 25 years) should be subject to their completing this mandatory period of Central deputation.
- The Centre should directly choose its Joint Secretaries, Additional Secretaries and Secretaries from among IAS officers “on offer” who are officiating in equivalent grades in State governments through a process of selection — in much the same manner as it chooses Deputy Secretaries/Directors.
- The Inter-State Council constituted under Article 263 of the Constitution is the institution meant specifically for handling such Centre-State situations before things get out of hand.
- The central government's primary goal should be to promote cooperative federalism.
- As a result, it should have comprehensive consultations with states and ensure sufficient AIS recruitment to avoid a dearth of officers.