Dilli Ka Babu: Punjab CM fights to retain top cop Dinkar Gupta

The Cabinet’s decision to merge eight service cadres of the railways into one has caused much heartburn ever since it was announced.

Update: 2020-02-03 00:49 GMT
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh

The quashing of the appointment of Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) is a big blow to the state government, though not entirely unexpected. The tribunal also stated that the process followed in Mr Gupta’s appointment in February last year was against the provisions outlined by the Supreme Court.

When the Amarinder Singh government appointed Mr Gupta as the state’s top cop, he superseded five officers. Two superseded officers, Mohammad Mustafa and Siddharth Chattopadhyaya, then moved CAT to challenge the appointment, which has now struck down Mr Gupta’s appointment. Further, it has called it an act of “favouritism” and “arbitrariness”. The tribunal has now directed the state government to send names of the three seniormost officers to the UPSC for the appointment of a new candidate.

But sources say, despite this major setback, the state government is determined to protect Mr Gupta. The chief minister reportedly told the state Assembly that Mr Gupta will continue as DGP. The high court has now stayed the tribunal’s order after the state government knocked on its door. So, we can expect this “fight” to continue. Watch this space for updates.

Heading down a new track
The Cabinet’s decision to merge eight service cadres of the railways into one has caused much heartburn ever since it was announced. But the government is determinedly going ahead, despite the intense social media campaign against it by officers who feel worried about their seniority and career prospects after the merger.

After the announcement, several officers had begun a campaign where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sent thousands of postcards with messages to “Save Indian Railways”. Several others gave up the protection of anonymity and took to social media platforms to express shock and disappointment.

However, the government has, typically, maintained an aggressive approach. Most observers have noted that the existing silos within the Indian Railways had to be broken, as recommended in reports by several committees, the most recent being the one led by Bibek Debroy, eminent economist and chairman of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to the Prime Minister.

Admittedly, it’s not going to an easy task, especially integrating some 8,401 officers into the new Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS). But the railways have begun working towards it. It has cancelled its plans to recruit fresh officers from the engineering services examination and the civil service examination this year. Some 250 candidates were to be recruited this year to these services.

RBI: A house divided
The introduction of the unified regulatory and supervisory cadre at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in November 2019 has created a crisis, with several officers indicating that they want to opt out of the cadre. The deadline for deciding their career path ends this month-end.

The move, which is probably the biggest shake up in the RBI’s history, was seen as the first step towards hiving off the oversight functions into a separate entity, as recommended by the Srikrishna panel back in March 2013. But given that it has created unprecedented turmoil in the organisation, the central board of RBI is likely to review the progress on the unified cadre during its next meeting in February.

According to sources, the RBI clearly did not anticipate the disruptive impact the new oversight cadre would have on the officials. It is now felt that the groundwork including addressing the concerns of the officials could have been handled better. Watch this space for updates.

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