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Haryana bureaucracy on the boil

By IndianMandarins- 23 Nov 2020
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haryana-bureaucracy-on-the-boil

The simmering dissatisfaction with service matters in the Haryana civil services boiled up last week. This may indicate that the administration of CM Manoharlal Khattar has been either unwilling or failing or both in harmonizing the interests of various service groups in the state. This doesn't omen well for the governance of the state, much less for the reputation of the ruling party. 

First, it was famous public-spirited IAS officer Ashok Khemka who stoked the fire.

In a letter (whose content became public last week) to Chief Secretary Vijaya Vardhan, Khemka argued that the mandated prior approval of the state Civil Services Board (CSB) was not being secured while transferring and posting officers in the state.

Citing cadre rules and several examples, the officer pointed out that, in gross violation of the Supreme Court directions, IAS cadre posts were being distributed among non-cadre officers without informing the UPSC and the central government and such 'illegal' postings were being validated through post-facto CSB approvals.

While non-cadre officers can't remain posted to IAS cadre posts beyond three months, he wrote  “Shri Yogender Chaudhry, IRS, continues on the cadre post of Principal Secretary since 12th March 2020 and Shri Alok Verma, IFS, occupied the cadre post of Principal Secretary in addition to his own IFS cadre post for a period of almost 6 months from 30.04.2020 to 22.10.2020 before seeking retirement to join as Chairman, HPSC”.

He also referred to the appointments of IPS officer Shatrujeet Singh Kapoor and IFS officer MD Sinha to IAS cadre posts. He argued that the state government was law-bound to seek approval of the central government to validate the appointment of these two officers beyond three months to the cadre posts of Principal Secretary.

As the content of Khemka's letter became public, the Haryana Civil Services Association also joined the fray to highlight their disappointment with the appointment of non-cadre officers to their cadre posts.

The Association president, Dr. Vandana Disodia, wrote to the CS, arguing that the posting of "officers of allied services against the cadre posts meant for the HCS... was a colorable exercise of power ... Also, it undermines the existence and efficacy of the Civil Services Board and the service as a whole.”

She pointed out that though the cadre strength of the HCS executive branch was enhanced recently, these executive branch officers have been given insignificant assignments or their postings are put on hold for a long time. In specific terms, she referred to the fact HCS officers are never posted to cadre posts of the police department or sent on any deputation to the police department as SP, ASP, etc. "Even the posts meant for HCS (EB) like Additional IG (Jails), Secretary Police Establishment, etc have traditionally been kept vacant for all these years for no plausible reasons. In a welfare state and democratic set-up, it is paramount that these posts are manned by officers of the Civil Administration. There is absolutely no representation to our service in key departments of the State like Home Affairs, Chief Secretary office, power department, police establishment, etc.”

She also expressed her rage over the fact that many HCS officers are also too frequently suspended without due investigations on the basis of unsustainable charges. She called for this undesirable situation to be reversed and the principle of fair play adopted in dealing with HCS officers.

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