Inter-service tensions have always existed in babudom but remain low-key. The oldest fault line is the perception that the government favours the IAS more than the other all-India services, especially in terms of powers and promotions, etc., in recent months though there was a growing awareness that the Modi Sarkar was actively placing officers from the IPS, IFoS and IRS services in posts traditionally held by the IAS.
However, seeing the reaction of non-IAS service officers to the recent promotion and empanelling of 25 IAS officers of the 1996 batch and two IPS officers of the 1994 batch to the rank of additional secretary, and the posting of a 1990-batch IPS officer to an equivalent designation, it seems that the rivalry has risen a notch or two.
The move, sources say, has created a gap of six years between parallel ranks in the IAS and IPS, and IPS officers are upset at this “unprecedented” order. According to a source, the order of appointment mentions two unusual decisions by the appointments committee. It has reportedly promoted two IPS officers Shyam Bhagat Negi (HP cadre) as additional secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat and Vijay Bhatia (UP cadre) as joint secretary (personnel) in the ministry of external affairs (MEA).
Being a 1990-batch IPS officer, Mr Negi has been appointed to the same position as two dozen IAS officers of the 1996 batch. Meanwhile, Mr Bhatia who is a batch senior to Mr Negi has been appointed to a junior rank. Also, it is being pointed out that there is only one IPS officer of the 1989 batch of additional director general of police rank, posted as additional secretary. The real issue apparently is that while the government has promoted 1996-batch IAS officers as additional secretaries, in the IPS cadre it has promoted the 1990-91 batches to the same post. Seniority apparently has meant little.
Still, no one is willing to step out and speak publicly on the issue, not even the IAS and IPS associations. But these inter-service tensions must be resolved at the earliest.
MHA throws the rule book at DANICS babus
The fallout of the fierce political rivalry between the AAP-led Delhi government and the BJP-ruled Centre is most often felt by the babus in both governments. Split between loyalty to the government they serve and the rulebook, it is babus who often pay the price.
Six DANICS (Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service) cadre officers working with the Delhi government now face disciplinary action for failing to accept their transfer to the Lakshadweep administration and not joining duty immediately. This, after the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) bench headed by chairperson Manjula Dass, turned down their plea challenging their transfer.
In November last year, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) issued transfer orders to DANICS officers Sandeep Kumar Mishra, Sravan Bagaria, Shailendra Singh Parihar, Singare Ramchandra Mahadev, Nitin Kumar Jindal and Rakesh Kumar to Lakshadweep, but the babus immediately moved the CAT in the hope of overturning the order. They were served with a reminder earlier in February but this, too, was ignored. That has not worked. The CAT bench has now noted that there is “no merit” in their application challenging the transfer. It has ordered the babus to immediately report to the Lakshadweep administration. If they fail to join, the order states that “disciplinary action as per rules” will be initiated against them without further notice.
The unwholesome tendency of babus not reporting to the place of transfer and resorting to litigation has been viewed seriously even by the Supreme Court. The CAT order, therefore, is not surprising. The babus will have to obey or find themselves in the dock.
More changes in PMO
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is continuing to rebuild his team at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Close on the heels of the appointment of former petroleum secretary Tarun Kapoor as advisor to the PM and the induction of two additional secretaries Atish Chandra and Hari Ranjan Rao, 2004-batch IAS officer Vivek Kumar has been named private secretary to the Prime Minister.
Sources say that Mr Kumar, who was earlier a director in PMO, has been appointed at the joint secretary level. Most likely, this has been done to rectify the imbalance caused by having five additional secretaries as opposed to four joint secretaries. With Mr Kumar upgraded to the joint secretary level, the balance has been restored. He will join Hardik Satishchandra Shah who is also a private secretary to the PM.