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CSS cadre distressed over protracted denial of promotion

By Rakesh Ranjan- 18 Jan 2022
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New Delhi (18.01.2022): Good governance doesn't need the approval of the Supreme Court, does it? But a pending case relating to Central Secretariat Service (CSS) cadre promotion has apparently deterred the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), which is the cadre controlling authority of CSS, from following a fair and just policy on promotions of CSS officers. Or, is there something else?

This has come at a time when almost two batches of IAS officers have been getting promoted at Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary and Secretary-level every year. In contrast, even though the CSS is considered the backbone of bureaucracy being the institution that carries institutional memory as well as being the instrument that executes government policies, its officers have been feeling neglected as their several batches have been awaiting promotions for the last six to eight years. 

Hit by disappointment and frustration, CSS officers recently started a relay Twitter campaign with the hashtag #SaveCSS to raise the issue of their long-pending promotion.

According to CSS Forum (the umbrella Association of CSS officers) general secretary Manmohan Verma, even though the DoP&T has instructed all the Departments/Ministries to carry out promotions for other services/posts, subject to the outcome of the Supreme Court decision in an SLP titled ‘Jarnail Singh & Others Vs Lachmi Narayan Gupta & Others’ (wherein a verdict is being awaited since April 2019).

Sources in the CSS Forum claim that in accordance with the DoPT instruction, ministries and departments are carrying out promotions in all grades. However, the CS Division under DoP&T hasn't been processing the due promotion of CSS/CSSS/CSCS officers.

It is pointed out that there are multiple litigations pending in the Apex Court for the last 7 years. And this is cited by the CS Division in DoP&T as the reason for its inability to initiate any step in the direction of the promotion of the CSS Cadre. Therefore, the CSS officers are also distressed over the awfully slow move of the Supreme Court in deciding their service issue.

CSS officers have been at pains to explain how in some cases, officers have been denied their due promotion against available vacancies even after becoming eligible for promotion 5 to 6 years ago.

In 2021, after much agitation by CSS Officers, DoP&T decided to grant ad-hoc promotions in the Cadre pending judgment of the Court case. It may be noted that for CSS Cadre officers the month of August 2021 was marked by a rare development as the Union Government on 23rd August & 28th August posted nine CSS cadre officers in the rank of Joint Secretary.

However, after that, the DoPT has again stopped further ad-hoc promotions citing the pending judgment in cases related to the reservation in promotion.

It is pointed out that the last Order for ad-hoc promotions in CSS was issued approx. 258 days ago and ironically eligible officers are retiring every month without getting their rightful promotions causing financial loss affecting even their pension.

Further, the Apex Court reserved its judgment in the Jarnail Singh case on 25th October 2021, adding to the complexity of the situation. 

Readers may recall that Indianmandarins has always been highlighting the issues facing the CSS cadre in view of its critical position in the hierarchy of governance. CSS Officers are posted in all ministries and departments of Central Government at ‘Middle’ to ‘Senior Management’ level posts. On several occasions, Prime Minister and other Ministers have praised CSS Officers for their hard work and perseverance but their service issues continue to fester their careers.

Good governance begins with the government putting its own house in order before doing anything else. It may be pointed out that no court in the world can prevent the government from doing what it knows to be right and fair. So what's the government waiting for?

(By Rakesh Ranjan)

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Nine CSS Cadre officers were appointed as Joint Secretary (GoI) in a week's time (28.08.2021)

CSS cadre officers hopeful now: DOPT seeks fresh vacancy position within 10 days (29.07.2021)

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