In 2014, the Modi sarkar had decided that civil servants, after serving as personal secretary (PS) and officer on special duty (OSD) to ministers, could not be given the same role again. At the time, it was interpreted as a move to ensure that ministers refrained from choosing officers on their own.
Now that the NDA is back at the helm, the question has arisen again. To ensure continuity in administration and efficient functioning of ministries, several ministers have retained their earlier portfolios. Dharmendra Pradhan stays with petroleum, Nitin Gadkari with road transport, Piyush Goyal (railways and corporate affairs), and Ravi Shankar Prasad (law and justice). The question is whether these ministers will be allowed to retain their PS and OSDs or get new personal and preferred staff afresh? It may take the ministers a few more days to get personnel for their own offices. Until then the talk in the corridors will be about continuity versus disruption.
In the line of fire
Under suspension for the past 18 months for allegedly violating service rules, Kerala director general of police Jacob Thomas now faces a criminal case and termination threat, all for writing his autobiography! The state’s crime branch has registered a criminal case against Mr Thomas, reportedly on the directions of chief secretary, Tom Jose.
Observers say that the government’s ire is more against Mr Thomas’ bare-all memoir and his allegations against some of the higher-ups than for publishing it without seeking prior permission from his superiors. Apparently, the 1985-batch IPS officer has been unrestrained in attacking several politicians, including former chief minister Oommen Chandy, and also about how vested interests sabotaged his investigations of some controversial corruption cases.
According to the FIR, Mr Thomas had allegedly revealed official secrets in the book, thus violating the Police-Forces (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1966. If found guilty, Mr Thomas will have to face imprisonment for up to two years and a fine. A departmental action by the state government, based on these charges, may result in the DGP’s termination.
J&K govt to relax rules
The Jammu and Kashmir administration is struggling to fill vacant posts of the administrative secretaries of various departments due to the dearth of eligible officers. The consequent ad hocism hasn’t helped. In fact, sources say that the situation will deteriorate further in the coming months as more IAS officers attain the age of superannuation. To end the ad hocism in top-level appointments, the government has reportedly decided to relax the rules in consultation with the department of personnel and training (DoPT), Government of India, and consider IAS officers having less than 13 years of service and super timescale officers of the Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) for secretary-level posts in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to sources, state chief secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam has held a detailed discussion with the governor Satya Pal Malik and all the four advisers — K. Vijay Kumar, Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, K. Skandan and K.K. Sharma on the prevailing crisis. He reported that although the functioning of several departments is being managed through ad hoc arrangements and officers who have been assigned the additional charge, they find it difficult to dispose of the files expeditiously and pay timely attention to vital issues.
He further informed the governor and the advisers that there are certain departments where posts of administrative secretaries cannot be kept vacant for long, keeping in view their importance. The decision, thus, should help normalise the situation and improve governance in the state....