Recently Narendra Modi government allowed to induct private and public sector talent “laterally” at the joint secretary level in 10 key Union ministries/departments. This decision of NaMo government faced many criticisms from various opposition sections across India.
This action of NaMo Government somehow instigated “The Indian Revenue Services (IRS) Association of India” as they have written a sharply –worded eight-page letter dated 22nd June 2018 to the Prime Minister to show their disappointment with the current differential policy of empanelment for the post of the Joint Secretary, Additional secretary and Secretary at the central government. They conveyed via letter that “merit and competence” are also there in other central services, other than the Indian Administrative Services (IAS). Association has alleged “bias” in favour of IAS officers in the matter of empanelment and selection for the post of the Joint Secretary, Additional secretary and Secretary.
As of now, no officer from the IRS is working at the secretary-level and even at the additional secretary-level. They are not happy with the current system of empanelment and found systematic discrimination in the selection process. This has led to a negligible number of officers from Indian Revenue Services having an opportunity to work at that level. At the level of the Joint Secretary, Additional secretary and joint Secretary in the government, appointments are made based on “affiliation to the IAS”, ignoring the “merit and competence of other services”.
Currently there are 81 secretary-level officers in the central government, 57 belong to the IAS, and only 24 comprise from other services and lateral entries.
The IRS association has somehow found the ‘’the current differential policy of empanelment” for IAS officers and other central service officers “humiliating.” and requested to Prime Minister to bring change in the “arbitrary and discriminatory system of empanelment and selection of officers at higher levels in the government”.
In the letter, IRS Association blamed Central Staffing Scheme (CSS), which is responsible for allocating central government posts to eligible officers from various services for tweaking the rules for appointment to the posts of secretary and additional secretary.
According to the letter, officers from all 37 services were eligible for the secretary and additional secretary posts but in 2001, the eligibility criterion was tweaked by bringing a differential of two years between IAS officers and those from other central services. This effectively meant that officers of central services such as the revenue, forest and postal services, are equated to IAS officers who are two batches junior to them despite of the fact that they have entered in the system through same exam.
IAS officers need to have 32 years of experience in service to be eligible for secretary-level positions in the central government, whereas their counterparts require over 34-35 years of experience, before which most officers retire, the letter states.
Letter also quotes the chairman of Seventh Central Pay Commission, Justice A.K. Mathur, who had observed that “over a period of time IAS has arrogated to itself all power of governance and relegated all other services to a secondary position.”
It’s high time for the NaMo government to take the issue raised by the IRS Association before the gap between IAS and other services widens much which may impact the overall governance and country at large.