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Centre vs states: IAS officers put on central deputation


Recently the West Bengal Chief Secretary an IAS officer of the 1987 batch, was due to begin an extension of three months after retiring. Instead, the Centre has asked him to report and join the Government of India.


GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Policies and Interventions, All India Services)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. How officers get an extension?
  2. Central deputation
  3. Earlier showdowns
  4. What next?

How officers get an extension?

The DCRB (Death-cum-Retirement Benefit) Rules says that “a member of the Service dealing with budget work or working as a full-time member of a Committee which is to be wound up within a short period may be given extension of service for a period not exceeding three months in public interest, with the prior approval of the Central Government”. For an officer posted as Chief Secretary of a state, this extension can be for six months.

Central deputation

  • In normal practice, the Centre asks every year for an “offer list” of officers of the All India Services (IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service) willing to go on central deputation, after which it selects officers from that list.
  • The IAS Cadre Rules says an officer may, “with the concurrence of the State Governments concerned and the Central Government, be deputed for service under the Central Government or another State Government.” It also says that in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Central Government and the State Government or State Governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government.

Recent Plea:

  • In a PIL in the Supreme Court in January 2021, it was requested that the Rule 6(1) of the IAS Cadre Rules be struck down because states have to bear the brunt of arbitrary actions taken by the Centre, while the Rule makes it difficult for the Centre to enforce its will on a state that refuses to back down.

Earlier showdowns

  • West Bengal, 2019: In 2019, the Home Ministry had written to then West Bengal Chief Secretary calling for action against five IPS officers for allegedly taking part in a dharna against CBI raids. The state government said no officer had taken part in the dharna.
  • West Bengal, 2020: In December 2020, the Centre asked that three IPS officers who were in charge of security when BJP president J P Nadda’s motorcade was attacked outside Kolkata be sent on deputation with the Centre. The state government refused, citing a shortage of IPS officers. The officers concerned were not relieved from the state and the Centre did not insist either.
  • Tamil Nadu, 2001: A month after J Jayalalithaa took oath as Chief Minister in 2001, Tamil Nadu police’s CB-CID raided former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s home and arrested him along with his DMK colleagues. The following month, the Centre asked the state government to send three IPS officers on central deputation. But Jayalalithaa refused, and wrote to other Chief Ministers for their support to protect the rights of the states. The incident resulted in the removal of Governor.
  • Tamil Nadu, 2014: IPS officer Archana Ramasundaram was deputed to the CBI in 2014, but the Tamil Nadu government refused to release her, and suspended her when she defied the state’s order. However, the suspension did not apply because she had by that time already joined the CBI.

What next?

  • The Centre can take no action against civil service officials who are posted under the state government.
  • The All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969, states that the “authority to institute proceedings and to impose penalty” will be the state government if the officer is “serving in connection with the affairs of a state.”
  • For any action to be taken against an officer of the All India Services, the state and the Centre both need to agree.

-Source: Indian Express

June 2024