Opposition against the Centre’s proposal to amend the assignment rules of Administrative Service (IAS) officers continued to mount as Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan and Tamil Nadu’s MK Stalin on Sunday (January 24) too shot off letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly voicing their objections against the move.
TN CM MK Stalin wrote that the new changes in the IAS Cadre Rules “strike at the very root” of the nation’s federal polity and state autonomy.
In his letter, Kerala CM Vijayan too adopted a similar tone and requested the government to shelve the move. Or else, it would create a “fear psychosis” among civil service officials, who would be scared to implement state government policies, he wrote.
On January 12, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) wrote to the states that the Union government proposes to amend Rule 6 (deputation of cadre officers) of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules 1954. In the new clause proposed to be added to the rules, the union government has given itself power to appoint and transfer IAS and IPS officers without taking the prior approval of state governments.
Even as state governments, especially run by Opposition parties, have rebelled against the new rules, the Centre said that the central ministries were suffering from a shortage of officers since the states were not allotting adequate number of officers to them. This was affecting the functioning of the government, said the Centre.
The first to voice her dissent was West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has written two letters to PM Modi against this “draconian” amendment. While Karnataka Opposition leader, Congressman Siddaramaiah has termed it as “evil”. Rajasthan’s Ashok Gehlot, Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel and Jharkhand’s Hemant Soren have also registered their protest in a letter to PM Modi. They want the proposed new amendments to be scrapped.
Stalin in his letter further pointed out that the proposed amendments would cause “irreparable damage to the spirit of cooperative federalism” that exists between the Union and the states and give them undue power to the Centre. He made a reference to Sardar Vallabhai Patel, who is frequently quoted by PM Modi. Patel had always believed that independent India needed ‘a steel frame’ to run its civil, military, and administrative bureaucracy. And emphasised the importance of having a strong All-India Service.
Stalin went on to add that if implemented, the All-India Service officers would be under “perpetual fear” of being penalised by the Union Government at any time. And this would “certainly demoralise and destabilise the steel frame of bureaucracy in India”, he pointed out.
According to Stalin, the state governments too were woefully short of officers at specific seniorities, largely because of the wrong cadre management policies followed by the union government.
Meanwhile, Vijayan termed the present deputation rules as being already heavily loaded in favour of the Centre. He argued in his letter to the PM that these proposed amendments would induce a fear psychosis and an attitude of hesitancy among All India Service Officers to implement the policies of a state government. Particularly, if these policies were being brought in by a party/parties politically opposed by the ruling party at the Centre.
Not missing any opportunity to raise the issue, Mamata Banerjee recently attacked the Centre’s proposal once again at an event in the state. Accusing the Narendra Modi government of destroying the federal structure of the country, she asked, how can the Centre play with our federal structure? “How can it overrule the opinion and rights of duly elected state governments?, she said adding that the Centre must scrap the idea of making changes in the rules.