West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the second time in a week expressing her 'strong' reservations to the Centre's proposal to amend the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954.
The proposal, once approved, will give the Union government overriding powers to transfer IAS and IPS officers through Central deputation, doing away with the requirement of taking the approval of the state governments.
'More Draconian': CM Mamata Banerjee
Banerjee said in her letter to the prime minister:
"I find the revised amendment proposal more draconian than the former, and indeed its very grain is against the foundations of our great federal polity and the basic structure of India's Constitutional scheme. The moot point of the further revised draft amendment proposal is that an officer, whom the Central government may choose to take out of a state to any part of the country without taking his/her consent and without the agreement of the state government under whom he or she is serving, may now stand released from his/her current assignment forthwith."
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had written to the states on 12 January stating that the Union government proposes to amend Rule 6 (deputation of cadre officers) of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules 1954.
At least six state governments have written to the DoPT opposing any such move, which also includes the states governed by the BJP and its allies, The Hindu reported.
Kerala’s Law Minister P Rajeeve, stated that the state government would oppose the Centre’s proposal to amend the IAS (Cadre) rules “if it infringed on the cardinal principle of federalism”.
Meanwhile, Congress leader and former Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said the proposed amendment to the IAS cadre rules would disrupt effective governance and create avoidable legal and administrative disputes. Moreover, the Centre could weaponise the bureaucracy against an elected state government, The Hindu reported.
Further expressing her concern that the all-pervasiveness of the Central government over the All-India Service (AIS) officers will leave the states “at the mercy of the Centre”, Banerjee warned PM Modi stating that the move will surely be misused by the party in power at the Centre.
What Are the Changes?
Four amendments have been proposed to Rule 6 of the IAS (Cadre) Rules 1954.
It has been proposed that if the state government delays posting a state cadre officer to the Centre, “the officer shall stand relieved from cadre from the date as may be specified by the Central government”.
This will effectively change the present scenario, where officers have to get a no-objection clearance from the state government for Central deputation.
As per the proposal, the Centre will also decide the actual number of officers to be deputed to the Central government in consultation with the state, while the latter will provide names of such officers.
This contests the existing norms, according to which states have to depute the AIS officers, including the Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, to the Central government offices and at any point, it cannot be more than 40 percent of the total cadre strength.
The third proposed amendment says that in case of any disagreement between the Centre and the state, the matter will be decided upon by the Centre and the state shall only be required to give effect as per Centre’s decision.
The fourth change proposed is that in a specific situation where services of cadre officers are required by the Central government in “public interest” the state shall give effect to its decisions within a specified time, The Hindu reported.
‘Assault on Federal Structure'
Apart from states, other IAS officers have also reacted against the proposal.
Former Finance Secretary and IAS officer of 1978 batch belonging to Rajasthan cadre, Dr Arvind Mayaram, called the proposal "short-sighted" and said in a tweet, "Integrity of the nation would be at stake."
Meanwhile, former Government Secretary Anil Swarup asked in a tweet if PM Modi would have agreed to the rules when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.
Calling it an assault on the federal structure, Congress leader Kapil Sibal asked in a tweet, "What about 'cooperative federalism'?"
(With inputs from The Hindu.)
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)