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2017: Sanctioned strength, shortfall
Eek! It’s compulsory waiting/ - How a harmless coinage metamorphosed into a dreaded sword
Is “compulsory waiting” a punishment or a reward?
The Telegraph chronicled the chequered history of the deceptive “compulsive waiting” [in West Bengal; and thus, India]
The expression was coined to denote a situation where an officer has to wait in case there are no vacancies in the posts earmarked for the cadre. An officer on “compulsory waiting” is expected to automatically get a posting whenever there is a vacancy. At times, officers returning from central deputation have to spend a few days on “compulsory waiting” till they are assigned a post.
The government can send any of its employees — from top bureaucrats to Group D staff — on compulsory waiting.
So, “compulsory waiting” was little more than a sterile coinage — as most official terms are expected to be.
Baby grows fangs
As the number of IAS or IPS officers is far lower than the number of posts in Bengal, ideally there should be no one on compulsory waiting. But officers are regularly put on compulsory waiting, which has strengthened a perception that it is punishment bay. More WBCS officers find themselves in the category than those from the IAS.
“In Bengal, compulsory waiting is used as a tool to punish officers who upset the establishment,” said a senior IAS officer. “The earlier government also used it but this government has taken it to new heights,” he added.
According to him, a classic example is the case of former WBPDCL chairman Barun Roy, who was placed on compulsory waiting for going on a foreign trip without clearance from the top.
Another official recalled a minister thundering a few years ago, pointing to an IAS officer who was suspected to have leaked information to a journalist: “We have to put this officer on compulsory waiting.”
The cloud of leak appears to be a sure-fire passport to “compulsory waiting” country. An official recounted how a senior IAS officer put two personal secretaries of his predecessor on compulsory waiting as he was suspicious that the two individuals had been leaking information under their earlier boss.
The concept is by no means confined to Bengal. Veteran officers from Bihar recalled that such postings were common when Lalu Prasad was in power.
Since the phrase had not lost its original meaning then, officers in Bihar used the expression “waiting for posts” to differentiate the penalised category from those waiting because of other reasons. Behind the backs of those punished, a more evocative but less considerate “corridor posting” was preferred.
“Life is difficult when you are put on compulsory waiting,” said an officer who has seen his colleagues suffer.
There is no designated post for the person and the officer remains without work. But that doesn’t mean that the officer can idle at home. The officer has to report every day to a designated officer and spend the working hours in the vicinity. Which means that the Bihar coinage — “corridor posting — is not entirely a misnomer.
Officers on compulsory wait are entitled to monetary benefits. But in the absence of any post, they do not get other tangibles — office car, telephone bill reimbursement —and the intangible benefit called sense of power. “As the connotation of compulsory waiting has become negative, it is a stigma for any self-respecting person,” said an officer.
So, compulsory waiting is a Sword of Damocles that was never meant to be so. Some bureaucrats complained that the stick of compulsory waiting is often dangled to make the officers pliant.
However, it is also all in the mind.
A young IAS officer said. “The fact is no one wants to be put on compulsory waiting.”
The Times of India, Apr 20 2015
Centre relaxes gift policy for babus
Up To `5,000, No Govt Sanction Needed
Civil servants can now accept gifts up to Rs 25,000 from relatives and personal friends on occasions such as weddings etc, without reporting the same to the government. Gifts from other contacts may be received without government sanction as long as their value does not exceed Rs 5,000, according to the amended provisions of the All India Service (Conduct) Rules, 1968, relating to gifts. The Rs 5,000-limit shall cover free transporation, boarding and lodging.
The rules prior to the amendment required bureaucrats to report gifts exceeding Rs 5,000 from near relatives and personal friends, and those exceeding Rs 1,000 from others, to the government.
As per the new rules, “a member of the service may accept gifts from his near relatives or from his personal friends having no official dealings with them, on occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, funerals and religious functions when the giving of gifts is in conformity with the prevailing religious and social practice, but they have to make a report to the government if the value of such a gift exceeds Rs 25,000“. For persons other than relatives or friends, the rules now state that “no member of the service shall accept any gift without the sanction of the government if the value of the gift exceeds Rs 5,000“.This rule, however, would not apply to casual meals, casual lift or other social hospitality.
Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS) are the three all-India services.
Transfer as punishment
The Times of India 2013/08/08
The controversial suspension of Gautam Budh Nagar SDM Durga Sakthi Nagpal created waves and set the UP government on a collision course with the Centre. The Times of India presents a snapshot of cases from across the country where IAS, IPS and even forest service officers were shunted out, often because their political bosses found their work inconvenient. Based on media reports, these are cases that made headlines. There would be many others that didn’t get reported or don’t figure in this selection
The broad picture
SC ordered minimum tenure of police officers: 2 years
(Rajasthan) CM Ashok Gehlot’s shuffled 179 IAS officers on 480 postings since Dec 2008
In UP, DGs transferred at least once a year on average
(UP) Mayawati made 578 bureaucratic transfers in 1995, 777 in 1997, 970 in 2002, 1,000 in 2007
Some celebrated 21st century cases
Sanjay Chaturvedi (2002) Haryana | INDIAN FOREST SERVICE
Had 5 criminal cases slapped on him. Petitioned SC in 2012 requesting CBI inquiry into scams exposed during his seven-year service
Anand Swaroop (1994) UP | IPS
Joke goes before he’s unpacked in a new posting, his transfer order’s ready
38 postings in 18 yrs. Eight yrs, 8 postings. Remaining 30 in 10 yrs
Akhil Arora (1993) Rajasthan | IAS
The MD, Jaipur Metro Rail Corp, transferred when he decided to invite competitive bids for Metro project’s II phase allegedly against political will At least five postings since April 2009
Samit Sharma | Rajasthan | IAS
Chittorgarh collector shunted out in 2010 because he refused to sack a clerk for failing to stand up when a [ruling party] MLA entered his office New Cases
Ashish Kumar UP | District Mining Officer, Gautam Budh Nagar July 25, 2013 |
Shunted out two days before Nagpal
Kumar worked with Nagpal to impound trucks carrying illegal sand
In Feb Kumar and juniors attacked in a village when they halted a convoy of 13 tractor-trolleys loaded with illegally mined sand
Pankaj Choudhary Rajasthan | IPS
Aug 4 | Jaisalmer SP transferred for reopening case on July 31 against [ruling party] MLA Saleh Mohammad’s father Gazi Fakir, allegedly involved in smuggling activities along border
Ashish Kumar Tamil Nadu | IAS
District collector of Tuticorin transferred on August 6, 2013, hours after he ordered raid on sand mines
Some 20th century cases
Arun Bhatia Maharashtra | IAS (Retd)
26 postings in 26 years. As Collector of Bombay, exposed land scandals involving senior IAS officers. Former Pune municipal commissioner fought builder-politician mafia
G R Khairnar Maharashtra | IAS (Retd)
Mumbai’s demolition man. Targeted Mumbai’s illegal land mafia during 1990s’ construction boom.
Dared to take on then CM Sharad Pawar Based on media reports
Raju Narayana Swamy (1991) Kerala | IAS
The IITian (Chennai) with a brilliant academic record became India’s first service officer to complete national disaster management course
Went all guns blazing against illegal land deals by politicians, their families
Reportedly took on his father-in-law, a contractor, over an encroachment that he finally ordered cops to demolish 24 postings in 20 yrs; has written 25 books
C Umashankar (1990) TN | IAS
Madurai’s additional collector exposed cremation-shed scam that led to Jayalalithaa’s poll defeat
Faced suspension for taking on the Marans as jt vigilance commissioner
Suspended pending inquiry into genuineness of his, a dalit officer, community certificate. Filed petition questioning manual of state directorate of vigilance and anti-corruption
Poonam Malakondaiah (1998) Andhra | IAS
As agricultural commissioner dragged MNC seed company Monsanto to MRTPC. Co had to reduce
BT cotton seeds’ price. Transferred soon after.
EAS Sarma (1965) Andhra Pradesh | IAS 26 postings in 35 yrs
Ex-Union energy secretary
Strongly opposed TDP govt’s move in 1994-95 to rope in big power plants without competitive bidding
Unsuccessful, moved to central posting. Said, “If you can’t tolerate corruption, get out of the way.”
Damayanti Sen West Bengal | Kolkata police crime wing’s first woman chief
Cracked Park Street rape case as JCP (Crime) in 2010
Transferred two months later to a training post for allegedly proving CM Mamata Banerjee wrong
Transferred again within year to Darjeeling as DIG in Feb 2013
Rahul Sharma (1992) Gujarat | IPS 12 postings in 20 yrs
IIT Kanpur engineer, law graduate SP (Bhavnagar, 2002) opened fire on Hindu mob.
Shunted to Ahd police control room There, he procured call details of politicos, cops in riot days
Details that he submitted led to arrest of riot-accused Maya Kodnani, ex-member of CM Modi’s Cabinet, and VHP’s Jaydeep Patel
In 2011, he was chargesheeted for violating Official Secrets Act
Currently posted as DIG, Special Reserve Police, Vadodara
Manoje Nath (1973) Bihar | IPS (Retd) 40 postings in 39 yrs
Considered too upright, no-nonsense attitude thorn in political flesh
Amitabh Thakur (1992) UP | IPS 22 postings in 18 yrs
Proposed to DoPT changes in rules that’ll help officers expose graft
Bhawani S Detha | (1999) Rajasthan | IAS
8 postings since January 2009
Vikas Kumar (2004) Rajasthan | IPS
IITian, transferred from Bharatpur district after massive crackdown on mining mafia
In a single day in Mar 2012, Kumar arrested 97 people from mines in Pahari region
MLA Zahida Khan agitated for his transfer. He was sent off a month later
Mugdha Sinha Rajasthan | Jhunjhunu’s first woman collector
Posted in 2010, district collector shunted out in 2011 for allegedly taking on mining mafia close to local [ruling party] legislator
Choice of cadre/ 2017
The government played cupid to several IAS and IPS officer-couples forced to live apart because the cadre of one of the partners was the other's home state. Thus far, IAS and IPS officers were allowed to choose the cadre state of hisher spouse, but not if it was their own home state. On Tuesday , however, the appointments committee of Cabinet allowed such officers to choose the immediate next cadre they opted for in their UPSC application.
“The officers may choose the immediate next cadre opted by them in the detailed application form submitted to UPSC below the present cadre allotted,“ the DoPT said in a note. The decision comes after a unique application for change of cadre on the grounds of marriage came to the government's notice, involving an AGMUT cadre officer from TN and his wife Delhi cadre, TN native wife.
Compulsorily retiring officers for inefficiency
"Compulsory retirement route is provided for under Rule 16(3) of the All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement) Benefits Rules, 1958. The rule provides for a service review for all All-India Services officers in consultation with the state government concerned at two stages: when the officer completes 15 years of qualifying service and when he/she completes 25 years of qualifying service or attains 50 years of age.
Alternatively, the Centre may ask state to conduct such a review at any time it deems fit in case such a review has not been held at 15 or 25 years of service.
As per rules, the bureaucrat found fit for compulsory retirement is either given at least three months notice in writing or three month's pay and allowances in lieu of such notice. The government, in the case of Devangan and Chohan [below], opted for the latter.
2015 and 2016
The Times of India, Apr 14 2016
States find only two of 1,100 babus inefficient
While the Modi government, as per information shared with Parliament in December , dismissed or compulsorily retired 13 officers on grounds of inefficiency , the states appear far more accommodating, having recommended premature retirement of just two officers after reviewing the service records of 1,089 All-India Services (AIS) bureaucrats.
Of the 549 officers whose review was carried out by 14 states under Rule 16(3) of All India Services (Death-Cum Retirement Benefit) Rules, just one officer, that too from AGMUT cadre (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-MizoramUnion Territories, excluding Andaman and Nicobar Islands) that is administered by the Union home ministry , was found unfit for continuation in service upon completion of 15 years of service or five years of induction into IAS. Similarly , of the 540 officers whose service records were studied upon their completing 25 years or service or attaining 50 years of age, just one, also from AGMUT cadre, was recommended for premature retirement.
The 14 state cadres that carried out the intensive review of service records of 1,089 AIS officers since December 2013, with a view to weeding out deadwood and maintaining a high standard of efficiency , include Assam, Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, UP, Haryana, AGMUT and Odisha.
Interestingly , there is no information on formation of the review committee and conduct of the meeting in states like Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and Uttarakhand.
2017: 2 IPS officers compulsorily retired
HIGHLIGHTS The government has compulsorily retired two IPS officers on the basis of a performance review
The two officers were found to have put in sub-optimal performance by the concerned state cadre
The last time an IPS officer was 'compulsory retired' was [in 2001 or 2005].
NEW DELHI: In a rare and stern message to bureaucrats who fail to perform well in their careers, the government has compulsorily retired two IPS officers on the basis of a performance review required to be held at the end of 15 and 25 years of service under the All-India service rules.
The two IPS officers -- Raj Kumar Devangan, belonging to 1992 batch of Chhattisgarh cadre and Mayank Sheel Chohan from 1998 batch of AGMU cadre -- were found to have put in sub-optimal performance by the concerned state cadre on the basis of their service records, ACRs and assessment of their seniors.
"A notice has been served on them and as per rules, they were given three months salary along with compulsory retirement orders duly approved by appointments committee of Cabinet (ACC)," an officer told TOI.
The move is rare. The last time an IPS officer was 'compulsory retired' was [in 2001 or 2005]. It reportedly involved officers of Maharashtra cadre. "It is technically not a punishment but merely an action taken to remove officers seen as deadwood by their respective cadres and the Centre for not being serious in discharge of their duties. The compulsorily retired officer gets all post-retirement benefits," explained an officer.
As per sources, two IAS officers were also compulsorily retired recently on the same grounds.
Must conclude within six months
All departmental inquiries against IAS and IPS officers for alleged misconduct or misbehaviour will now have to conclude and a report submitted within six months, according to new rules notified by the Modi government to ensure swift action against those found guilty.
The All India Service (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969, also require an officer facing inquiry to submit his written statement of defence against charges of misconduct within 30 days of receiving a copy of the charges. He may also specify if he wishes to be heard in person. This period of 30 days may be extended after recording reasons in writing by the disciplinary authority.
Under no circumstances shall the extension of time for filing written statement of defence exceed 90 days from the date of receipt of articles of charge, say the amended rules.
As per the new norms, the inquiring authority should conclude the inquiry and submit a report within six months from the date of receipt or order of his appointment as inquiring authority .This authority may , however, seek extension, not exceeding six months, for its proceedings from the disciplinary authority . The reasons shall have to be recorded in writing by the disciplinary authority .
The disciplinary authority may , based on the findings of the inquiry , make an order imposing penalty on the officer found guilty.
HC allows Right to family life plea/ 2021
Delhi High Court has said the right to “meaningful” family life is a facet of the fundamental right to life guaranteed under the Constitution.
Allowing the plea of an IAS officer for inter-cadre transfer, the high court said, “the right to meaningful family life, which allows a person to live a fulfilling life and helps in retaining his/her physical, psychological and emotional integrity would find a place in the four corners of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, when the state unreasonably denies a request of an employee seeking inter-cadre transfer, it impinges upon such person’s right to demand respect for his/her family life.”
A bench of justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh agreed with the woman IAS officer’s contention that denial of her request for inter-cadre transfer by West Bengal government has resulted in an infraction of her right to family life.
“The fact that such rights are recognised as a part of human rights clearly emerges upon a perusal of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. A plain reading of Article 8(1) of the Convention discloses that every individual has the right to insist that the state respects his/her private and family life, home and correspondence,” the high court pointed out.
The bench rejected WB’s opposition to her transfer and noted that her request was declined without a cogent reason.
2010-19: some prominent cases
A joke in officialdom goes something like this: A human has 33 vertebrae, matching the average years of service a bureaucrat puts in. “Each year, the political leadership takes out one vertebra, leaving the bureaucrat spineless by the end of his career,” goes the tale.
While the joke is certainly stretched — and does not account for bureaucrats willing to play the political card — it’s not unusual for IAS and IPS officers to get identified with a political dispensation or suffer repercussions if they choose to defy political diktats requiring bending rules.
Sometimes, officials might find themselves too closely identified with certain programmes of governments that are politically contentious. Without being politically aligned, they find themselves identified with the government in office, making them targets for relegation when the regime changes.
The sight of senior cops and CM Mamata Banerjee sharing a stage at a dharna against the Centre following CBI’s bid to quiz Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar will take some beating but there are several instances, even if less dramatic, of officials caught in the crossfire between the Centre and states.
One reason why bureaucrats find themselves in a tough spot is that while IAS and IPS officers are allocated a certain state cadre, the cadrecontrolling authority is the Centre, with police under the home ministry and IAS under the department of personnel and training.
Delhi has witnessed continuous conflict since the AAP government assumed office as it challenged the authority of the Centre over postings. There was an unprecedented press conference by officers in 2018 when they denied being on “strike” and also wrote to CM Arvind Kejriwal protesting that dissent on policy matters should not be put down to political alignment.
Earlier, on December 15, 2015, CBI landed at the office of Kejriwal’s trusted aide and principal secretary Rajendra Kumar, a 1989 batch IAS officer. Kejriwal was quick to allege vendetta by the Modi government.
Former BSF director general Prakash Singh said, “Politicisation of police force is common across the country. Officials are not concerned about being on the right side of law. They are more worried about whether their action would please their political masters or not. It has even affected discipline and morale of the force.”
In Gujarat, a section of officers indicted in encounter killing cases alleged victimisation by the UPA government for their loyalty to the state regime under Narendra Modi. After CBI took over investigation of the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, IPS officer Abhay Chudasama, then DCP of Ahmedabad crime branch, was the first officer to be arrested in April 2010. Three months later, then MoS home of Gujarat Amit Shah was also arrested.
“I was targeted by CBI because it wanted to reach Amit Shah,” Chudasama had said in his discharge application before a CBI court. He was discharged by this court later.
Retired DIG D G Vanzara blamed the UPA government. “After the 2002 riots, the situation was very volatile in Gujarat and we had to prevent reprisal efforts. The UPA government targeted us with politically motivated cases. The acquittals in these false cases vindicate our stand,” Vanzara, who still faces trial in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, said.
On the other hand, investigators in the Sohrabuddin and Ishrat Jahan encounter cases — IPS officers Rajnish Rai and Satish Verma — allege victimisation by the NDA government after 2014. Both were shunted out of Gujarat after NDA came to power.
The case of young UP IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal held wide attention. The then UPA government took strong objection to her suspension by the Akhilesh Yadav-led state government in 2013. Nagpal acted against the sand mafia in Gautam Budh Nagar and found herself under suspension, ostensibly for ordering demolition of a wall at a disputed mosque.
Nagpal’s suspension, and the purportedly flimsy excuse, set off a national discussion on vulnerability of officers upholding the law and use of disciplinary action to punish honest, but inconvenient officers.
Newly-appointed CBI director Rishi Kumar Shukla was seen to be caught in a state-Centre conflict as DGP of Madhya Pradesh. The Kamal Nath government was upset when a Delhi Police team arrested a YouTuber from Bhopal without informing the state police. The MP home department wrote to the Centre protesting the arrest while BJP said the man was a Congress worker. A week later, Shukla was removed as DGP and transferred to MP Police Housing Corporation.
The evidence from Kerala is interesting as some IAS and IPS officers are seen to be hand-picked for postings in LDF and UDF governments. Yet, Centre-state conflicts have never got out of hand, with possibly a regular change of government contributing to a balance, former chief secretary Jiji Thomson said.
Most IPS and IAS officers in Tamil Nadu are seen to play political faultlines, leaving the bureaucracy virtually split on pro-DMK and pro-AIADMK lines. The more neutral officers can get caught in the crossfire as former additional director of CBI Archana Ramasundaram found out when her posting was opposed by the Tamil Nadu government. Under pressure from the Centre, she joined CBI without the state’s consent, leading to then AIADMK government initiating disciplinary proceedings. The case went to Supreme Court and finally the Centre moved her out of CBI.
Premature repatriation from GoI
The Times of India, Aug 12 2016
62 IAS officers sent back to state cadres
As many as 62 IAS officers have been sent back to their respective state cadres prior to completion of their central deputation tenure, in the past two years, Union minister of state for personnel Jitendra Singh told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday . The reasons range from personal grounds, availing of promotion in the cadre, requests from the state governments seeking premature repatriation to address shortage of officers and for appointment to senior posts such as chief secretary or secretary to the chief ministergovernor. “Sixty-two IAS officers in the rank of joint secretary and above on deputation under the central staffing scheme have been repatriated during last two years to their respective cadres due to variety of rea sons, including personal grounds, availing benefits of promotion in their respective cadres and on the request of state governments to address shortage of officers or appointment as chief secretary , secretary to chief minister or governor of the state, etc,“ Singh said. In reply to another question, the MoS said 13 IAS officers of Gujarat cadre in the rank of joint secretary were currently working on central deputation.
Officers have no right to claim cadre of choice: SC
The Supreme Court said a candidate cannot claim allocation of cadre of his/her choice as a matter of right after qualifying civil services examination as he/she opts for serving anywhere in the country with “eyes wide open”.
A bench of justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian passed the order while adjudicating a 14-year legal battle of a IAS officer to get Kerala cadre as it was her home state. The Kerala high court had passed the order in favour of A Shainamol and directed the Centre in 2017 to change her cadre from Himachal Pradesh to Kerala.
The SC, however, quashed the HC order and said that issue of allocation of cadres was well settled by the apex court in various judgments and the consistent view of the Court has been that even if the name of the candidate appears in the merit list, such candidate has no right to claim appointment.
“In the light of Rajiv Yadav (case), the allocation of cadre is not a matter of right. It was held that a selected candidate has a right to be considered for appointment to the IAS but he has no such right to be allocated to a cadre of his choice or to his home state. As stated above, allotment of cadre is an incidence of service. The applicant as a candidate for the All-India Service with eyes wide open has opted to serve anywhere in the country. The state has no discretion of allocation of a cadre at its whims and fancies Therefore, the Tribunal or the HC should have refrained from interfering with the allocation of cadres on argument of alleged violation of the allocation circular,” it said.
All India Services (Joint Cadres) Rules, 1972
2016: Ministers excluded from transfers panel
The Times of India, Jan 16 2016
New rules for IAS transfer in joint cadre
The government has notified new rules to exclude ministers from a panel that decides on transfers of IAS and IPS officers in the joint cadre of some states. However, senior government officials said the rules did not apply to joint cadre of Union Territories, which include Delhi.
The All India Services (Joint Cadres) Rules, 1972, say that “they shall apply to a joint cadre constituted for any group of states other than the joint cadre of Union Territories“.
“The change applies only to Assam-Meghalaya cadre where two governments are involved,“ a senior DoPT official said.