NEWS ANALYSIS

pil-against-ed-s-extension-of-service-seen-short-on-facts

PIL against ED's extension of service seen short on facts

New Delhi (28.11.2020): The government had possibly foreseen it coming. And so it followed the due process to avoid an unmitigable embarrassment at the hands of regime critics who are hellbent on regime change by all means.

On November 27, 2020, unaware of the facts for extending the tenure of ED Sanjay Kumar Mishra (IRS IT:1984) by one year, NGO Common Cause filed a PIL petition in the Supreme Court. The issue, may it be noted, had already stirred a hornet's nest across the bureaucracy not only because of its tenuously concealed attempt at favoring an officer, but also because it was seen sealing off the promotional avenue of many officers down the line.

The NGO's petition, filed through its lawyer Prashant Bhushan, argues that Section 25 of the Central Vigilance Act, 2003, stipulates that only an officer holding a rank higher than that of an Additional Secretary would be considered eligible for appointment as ED.

The petition states: "As (Respondent No. 2) Sanjay Kumar Mishra has already reached his retirement age in May 2020, therefore, after the end of Respondent No.2’s two-year period on November 19, 2020, the Respondent No.2, by virtue of not holding any post above the rank of Additional Secretary, would have been ineligible for appointment as a Director of Enforcement again."

The PIL is seen as flawed in its pivotal point. According to the database of Indianmandarins.com, Mishra was empanelled by the ACC on 04.12.2019 to hold Secretary/Secretary-equivalent posts at Centre, followed by the ACC upgrading on 13.12.2019 the ED Chief post to the rank and pay of Secretary, Govt of India.

However, the petition argued that, since Mishra didn't hold a rank above that of additional secretary at the end of his two-year tenure on November 19, 2020, and since he had already hit the retirement age in May 2020, he had already lost the eligibility for the extension of tenure.

The NGO pointed out that Mishra's extension was facilitated through the adoption of a circuitous route of retrospectively modifying the initial appointment order dated 19/11/2018. So what couldn't be done directly was done indirectly, it said.

Its petition highlights: "Thus, by virtue of the impugned Office Order, dated 13.11.2020, the appointment order dated 19.11.2018 has been modified with retrospective effect and the Respondent No.2 (Sanjay Kumar Mishra) herein has been given an additional one year of service as Director of Enforcement in the Enforcement Directorate."

Officers point out that though every administration has a legitimate right to select and appoint officers of their choice, this right can be exercised only by following the administration's own time-tested due processes. In the case of Mishra, the government had respected and followed due process. "The NGO doesn't seem to have done its homework properly, though guided by former bureaucrats", remarked an officer.

It's a different thing that the exercise of the right to grant extensions and reappointing officers of their choice has its own pitfalls since it militates against the philosophy of maintaining the neutrality of bureaucracy in our democratic setup as also because it disrupts the career prospects of officers down the line

In the past too, the administrations have been seen obsessed with appointing and reappointing their officers of choice. But in recent times, it is seen as becoming a policy substitute.

Take, for instance, the case of reappointment of  PC Mody as CBDT chairman on a contractual basis for a year followed by an extension once again for six months in September 2020. While the due process was followed in his reappointment - never mind the career prospects of Nishi Singh and Gopal Mukherjee were trampled in the process, look at the mess the CBDT has become: there is no regular Member (Investigation) in CBDT since April 2018. The additional charge of Member (Investigation) is vested in Chairman after Gopal Mukherjee retired in March 2018 as Member (Investigation). On top, at least three posts of member CBDT are lying vacant for a long time.

Similarly, for reasons best known to the authorities, recently, Culture Secretary Raghvendra Singh, who after retirement was made the CEO in charge of Development of Museums and Cultural Spaces, was reverted to his old job of culture secretary through reappointment in addition to his extant job of CEO.

More names could be added to the list of officers who have been favored with extension and reappointment. Which could further prove that ad hocism and favoritism remain ingrained in India's governance culture as before, despite whatever one may claim or boast.

(By MK Shukla and Rakesh Ranjan)

ALSO READ:

ED's extension of service challenged (27.11.2020) 

“Modification”: ED Chief gets extension albeit in a different way (14.11.2020)



28 Nov 2020
apparently-acc-knocks-down-the-360-degree-panel-recommendation-rekindles-hope

Apparently, ACC knocks down the 360-degree panel recommendation, rekindles hope

The 360-degree method of empanelment of officers, which opened the window for retired officers to influence the careers of some of the best serving officers, is once again in focus, thanks to the bold decision taken by the ACC to not necessarily act on the advice of the 360-degree committees, and going to the extent of rejecting their advice as and when required.

In this regard, UT cadre officers cite the case of G Narendra Kumar (IAS:1989:UT) whose name finally appeared in the list of the review empanelment order issued on 22.09.2020, though Kumar's name didn't figure in the first list (Empanelment for holding Additional Secretary level post in Govt of India)made public on 19.07.2018. It is pointed out that Kumar is known as a no-nonsense officer but suffers from the 'disability' to network and hence had to suffer the humiliation and trauma of not figuring in the first list.

Several UT cadre officers told Indianmandarins that Kumar was always considered among the best lot of officers. However, because of his honorable conduct, a web was created to discredit him and block his growth in administration. Subsequently, the web was discovered to be fabricated by a tissue of lies. But the damage to Kumar's career was already done. Though the NaMo administration sends a message, at least in this case, that fairness may be delayed for a while but may not be denied in perpetuity.

Look at the way Kumar was hounded.

In the third week of September 2017, the CBI booked G Narendra Kumar, then Chairman of the Puducherry Centralised Admission Committee, and 12 others in connection with the alleged irregularities in the admission procedure for postgraduate medical courses in private institutions. CM V Narayanasamy had then on 21.09.2017 told reporters in a veiled reference to the then Lt Governor that some people at the top were 'preoccupied with victimizing' officers of the UT of Puducherry. 

The CM had also asserted that the booked officers had not violated any rules or procedures as separate committees, appointed by the Madras High Court, were on job to fix fees, and monitor the admission process in the medical colleges and the Medical Council of India (MCI) supervised the admissions.

The bottom line is: Will the government continue to indulge retired officers, many of whom - as many as 140 -have formed a group and keep issuing unsolicited statements against the BJP governments because of their past association with the Congress-UPA governments as well as with some foreign-funded NGOs associated with "breaking India forces." Why not check the administrative and political antecedents of retired officers before soliciting their dated and expired advice on the performance records of serving officers? Why not indeed?

(By Rakesh Ranjan)

13 Oct 2020
pil-against-ed-s-extension-of-service-seen-short-on-facts

PIL against ED's extension of service seen short on facts

By M K Shukla & Rakesh Ranjan 28 Nov 2020

New Delhi (28.11.2020): The government had possibly foreseen it coming. And so it followed the due process to avoid an unmitigable embarrassment at the hands of regime critics who are hellbent on regime change by all means.

On November 27, 2020, unaware of the facts for extending the tenure of ED Sanjay Kumar Mishra (IRS IT:1984) by one year, NGO Common Cause filed a PIL petition in the Supreme Court. The issue, may it be noted, had already stirred a hornet's nest across the bureaucracy not only because of its tenuously concealed attempt at favoring an officer, but also because it was seen sealing off the promotional avenue of many officers down the line.

The NGO's petition, filed through its lawyer Prashant Bhushan, argues that Section 25 of the Central Vigilance Act, 2003, stipulates that only an officer holding a rank higher than that of an Additional Secretary would be considered eligible for appointment as ED.

The petition states: "As (Respondent No. 2) Sanjay Kumar Mishra has already reached his retirement age in May 2020, therefore, after the end of Respondent No.2’s two-year period on November 19, 2020, the Respondent No.2, by virtue of not holding any post above the rank of Additional Secretary, would have been ineligible for appointment as a Director of Enforcement again."

The PIL is seen as flawed in its pivotal point. According to the database of Indianmandarins.com, Mishra was empanelled by the ACC on 04.12.2019 to hold Secretary/Secretary-equivalent posts at Centre, followed by the ACC upgrading on 13.12.2019 the ED Chief post to the rank and pay of Secretary, Govt of India.

However, the petition argued that, since Mishra didn't hold a rank above that of additional secretary at the end of his two-year tenure on November 19, 2020, and since he had already hit the retirement age in May 2020, he had already lost the eligibility for the extension of tenure.

The NGO pointed out that Mishra's extension was facilitated through the adoption of a circuitous route of retrospectively modifying the initial appointment order dated 19/11/2018. So what couldn't be done directly was done indirectly, it said.

Its petition highlights: "Thus, by virtue of the impugned Office Order, dated 13.11.2020, the appointment order dated 19.11.2018 has been modified with retrospective effect and the Respondent No.2 (Sanjay Kumar Mishra) herein has been given an additional one year of service as Director of Enforcement in the Enforcement Directorate."

Officers point out that though every administration has a legitimate right to select and appoint officers of their choice, this right can be exercised only by following the administration's own time-tested due processes. In the case of Mishra, the government had respected and followed due process. "The NGO doesn't seem to have done its homework properly, though guided by former bureaucrats", remarked an officer.

It's a different thing that the exercise of the right to grant extensions and reappointing officers of their choice has its own pitfalls since it militates against the philosophy of maintaining the neutrality of bureaucracy in our democratic setup as also because it disrupts the career prospects of officers down the line

In the past too, the administrations have been seen obsessed with appointing and reappointing their officers of choice. But in recent times, it is seen as becoming a policy substitute.

Take, for instance, the case of reappointment of  PC Mody as CBDT chairman on a contractual basis for a year followed by an extension once again for six months in September 2020. While the due process was followed in his reappointment - never mind the career prospects of Nishi Singh and Gopal Mukherjee were trampled in the process, look at the mess the CBDT has become: there is no regular Member (Investigation) in CBDT since April 2018. The additional charge of Member (Investigation) is vested in Chairman after Gopal Mukherjee retired in March 2018 as Member (Investigation). On top, at least three posts of member CBDT are lying vacant for a long time.

Similarly, for reasons best known to the authorities, recently, Culture Secretary Raghvendra Singh, who after retirement was made the CEO in charge of Development of Museums and Cultural Spaces, was reverted to his old job of culture secretary through reappointment in addition to his extant job of CEO.

More names could be added to the list of officers who have been favored with extension and reappointment. Which could further prove that ad hocism and favoritism remain ingrained in India's governance culture as before, despite whatever one may claim or boast.

(By MK Shukla and Rakesh Ranjan)

ALSO READ:

ED's extension of service challenged (27.11.2020) 

“Modification”: ED Chief gets extension albeit in a different way (14.11.2020)



apparently-acc-knocks-down-the-360-degree-panel-recommendation-rekindles-hope

Apparently, ACC knocks down the 360-degree panel recommendation, rekindles hope

By Rakesh Ranjan 13 Oct 2020

The 360-degree method of empanelment of officers, which opened the window for retired officers to influence the careers of some of the best serving officers, is once again in focus, thanks to the bold decision taken by the ACC to not necessarily act on the advice of the 360-degree committees, and going to the extent of rejecting their advice as and when required.

In this regard, UT cadre officers cite the case of G Narendra Kumar (IAS:1989:UT) whose name finally appeared in the list of the review empanelment order issued on 22.09.2020, though Kumar's name didn't figure in the first list (Empanelment for holding Additional Secretary level post in Govt of India)made public on 19.07.2018. It is pointed out that Kumar is known as a no-nonsense officer but suffers from the 'disability' to network and hence had to suffer the humiliation and trauma of not figuring in the first list.

Several UT cadre officers told Indianmandarins that Kumar was always considered among the best lot of officers. However, because of his honorable conduct, a web was created to discredit him and block his growth in administration. Subsequently, the web was discovered to be fabricated by a tissue of lies. But the damage to Kumar's career was already done. Though the NaMo administration sends a message, at least in this case, that fairness may be delayed for a while but may not be denied in perpetuity.

Look at the way Kumar was hounded.

In the third week of September 2017, the CBI booked G Narendra Kumar, then Chairman of the Puducherry Centralised Admission Committee, and 12 others in connection with the alleged irregularities in the admission procedure for postgraduate medical courses in private institutions. CM V Narayanasamy had then on 21.09.2017 told reporters in a veiled reference to the then Lt Governor that some people at the top were 'preoccupied with victimizing' officers of the UT of Puducherry. 

The CM had also asserted that the booked officers had not violated any rules or procedures as separate committees, appointed by the Madras High Court, were on job to fix fees, and monitor the admission process in the medical colleges and the Medical Council of India (MCI) supervised the admissions.

The bottom line is: Will the government continue to indulge retired officers, many of whom - as many as 140 -have formed a group and keep issuing unsolicited statements against the BJP governments because of their past association with the Congress-UPA governments as well as with some foreign-funded NGOs associated with "breaking India forces." Why not check the administrative and political antecedents of retired officers before soliciting their dated and expired advice on the performance records of serving officers? Why not indeed?

(By Rakesh Ranjan)

pmo:-top-level-changes-offer-a-lot-to-read-between-lines

PMO: Top level changes offer a lot to read between lines

By IndianMandarins 31 Aug 2019

Nripendra Mishra’s offer to quit as PS to PM and subsequent appointment of P K Sinha (Retd IAS:1977:UP) as OSD in PMO offers a lot to read between the lines.

 

The first and the foremost thing expected ahead would be the announcement of Dr P K Mishra’s elevation as Principal Secretary to the PM. P K Sinha may be announced by the first week of September as Additional Private Secretary to the PM.

 

Earlier, Senior Mishra (Nripendra Mishra) played a wide role in PMO and handand the centre-state issues and project coordination whereas junior Mishra was considered the sole authority on personnel matters.

 

In the new scenario senior P K (Dr PK Misra) may continue with personnel issues whereas junior P K (P K Sinha) will be in the role of senior Mishra. It is apprehended that P K Sinha may be given the status of MoS and not the cabinet rank. Sinha as Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha already holds MoS rank.  

 

Power corridors are abuzz that Nripendra Mishra may be either made Lieutenant Governor of Delhi or Governor of any state.

 

Critics of Modi take this development as ouster of Nripendra Mishra but they fail to understand that Modi continued reposing his faith on him throughout his first term and even during the initial months on Modi 2.0.

 

One shouldn’t forget that the PM had set the age limit (75 yrs) for such high offices which Nripendra Mishra has already completed. Apparently Nripendra Mishra has a great grasp over public policy and administration but the same could also be attributed to P K Sinha who has been spearheading PM’s several pupulistic socio-economic programs during his tenure as Cabinet Secretary.

 

Further, having set the target of $5 trillion economy, the PM needs to infuse new and fresh approach in the top management. Probably the emerging scenario would have prompted PM for few changes at the top.

 

In the power corridors, it was often discussed that by February 2020 Rajiv Kumar (IAS:1984:JH) would be assigned personnel matters which at present is with Dr P K Mishra in the PMO but it appears to have been ruled out for now at least.

 

Indianmandarins often underlines that element of surprise and unpredictability have been the hallmark of NaMo administration. Modi’s critic will fail again to speculate the next assignment for Nripendra Mishra.

poetic-justice:-ire-and-fire-of-power

Poetic justice: Ire and fire of power

By IndianMandarins 06 Jul 2019

Is the DG post of Fire Service, Civil Defense, and Home Guards (FS,CD&HG)  jinxed?

 

In recent memory, except for Prakash Mishra (Retd IPS:1977: OR) in 2016 who got it after retirement, the job has been seen as a punishment posting. For instance, Gujarat Police chief P C Thakur (IPS:1979: GJ) was abruptly shifted from Gujarat to Centre by appointing him abruptly on April 15, 2016, as DG of FS, CD & HG. Thakur refused to take up the assignment and never looked back. All it held a lesson; stay calm and composed while holding a high-profile public office.

 

Friday was a day of poetic justice for M Nageshwar Rao (IPS:1986:OR); the former interim chief of CBI and ADG, CBI. The services of  Rao were placed under Union Home Ministry as DG, Fire Service, Civil Defence, and Home Guards by "temporarily downgrading the post" to the level of additional director general till his retirement in July 2020. Presently, he is Additional Director General, CBI.

 

May it be recalled that immediately after infected bad blood started coursing through the arteries of the CBI, then director Alok Verma was unceremoniously transferred to the fire services. Verma declined to obey that order on the ground that he had already superannuated before being appointed the CBI director which was a fixed term office. And since he is transferred from the CBI, he was no longer qualified to hold the regular term office of DG Fire Services.

 

When Verma was transferred from CBI, Rao was given charge of his office on an ad hoc basis. After taking over the charge, the first thing Rao did was to transfer 13 SP and ASP level officers at one go which was later revoked in January 2019. He did it twice just to affront Verma. The transfer issue is now pending in the courts.

 

The Directorate General of Civil Defence was established in 1962 under the Home Ministry for all policy and planning matters related to civil defense and its running partners Home Guards and Fire Services.

 

What the recent development underlines is that no job is high or low. It's a doer's contribution that shines or blemishes a job. 

(By Rakesh Ranjan)

will-eac-pm-be-reconstituted-in-september-this-year

Will EAC-PM be reconstituted in September this year?

By IndianMandarins 06 Jul 2019

After the reconstitution of NITI Aayog on June 06, 2019, the pay and perks of Dr Bibek Debroy and Ratal P Watal had raised some questions. These question arose as both Debroy and Watal did not find a place in the reconstituted NITI Aayog team. But reportedly, the PMO has settled the vexed issues well on time.

 

When the PM Economic Advisory Council was revived in September 2017, Debroy (Member, NITI) was made Chairman and Watal (Principal Adviser, NITI) was made Member Secretary of the EAC-PM. Both of them drew salaries and availed perks from NITI Aayog. After they lost positions in the reconstituted NITI Aayog, the nodal agency for the EAC-PM, the PMO was prompt enough to issue an order making provisions that they would be entitled to the same status, pay and allowances they were entitled to before the reconstitution of NITI Aayog on June 06, 2019. As the nodal agency, the expenditure borne by NITI may be debited to EAC-PM Budget till September 25, 2019, or till such date, the EAC-PM exists.

 

However, this has made people speculate whether EAC-PM would be reconstituted in September last week.

(By Rakesh Ranjan)

poll-time-media-strategy:-why-does-congress-get-beaten-by-bjp?

Poll-time media strategy: Why does Congress get beaten by BJP?

By IndianMandarins 28 Apr 2019

In the current Lok Sabha poll campaign BJP appears to have a clear edge over Congress Party. The communication strategy of the BJP has given it an upper hand over Congress. This is so despite the fact that Congress has a host of issues to corner the BJP. These range from demonetisation, growing unemployment, rural distress, Pulwama attack and BJP’s misplaced view of nationalism as borne out by Sadhvi Pragya’s sad remarks on martyrdom of Hemant Karkare.

 

Congress first came up with a pointed and biting slogan like 'Chowkidar Chor Hai' to target PM Modi. But it could not continue the push called for to sustain it a bit longer or till the end of the polls. The BJP did not take much of a time to turn it around to its 'Main Bhi Chowkidar' blitz to blunt or minimise the damage that the Congress’ charge could have caused.

 

This is so mainly because of a delay in deciding what message is to be sent and how it is to be sent by the Congress communication department. The party insiders feel that too much reliance on the chairman of the department Randeep Singh Surewala is taking its toll upon the message and appeal issued by the party and its top leaders. First the department waits for the message to come through the top ranks of the party instead of generating it through its own initiative and then at best it confines itself to rebut the tirade that follows from the rival or BJP’s side against those ranks and the points made by them.

 

Seldom does the communications wing of Congress come up with its own ideas to preempt or reverse the push coming from the BJP, say Congress sources. This is despite the fact that in 2014 the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi had attributed the defeat of the party to its inability to effectively communicate its point of view in the media and among the public. Yet, the change that was desired or sought by her never came through the past five years or so, remark old hats of the party with a wry face.

 

The result of this is palpably clear as the party often struggles to present its point of view with the desired deft, drive and in a focused way in primetime TV debates. No team of spokespersons could be built in last five years to match or worth facing the array of personalities put by the BJP for TV shows. And when it came to confront the strong nationalist push mounted by the BJP to get an edge in the current polls, it was none other but the newly appointed Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi who had to come forward to take on the BJP. During her recent campaign at Fatehpur Sekri she challenged BJP’s brand of nationalism by arguing that people should be at the centre of any definition of nationalism and a nationalist thrust cannot come without taking along the people. What she meant was that as the Government merrily goes around playing its tune of nationalism majority of people find themselves to be left in the cold.

 

Thus, the communication strategy of the Congress is turning out to be top down rather than its being the other way round where even getting the full backing of party’s actual communicators to points made by the higher leadership is impossibly difficult. This is also turning out to be the case with the party president Rahul Gandhi’s minimum income guarantee, or NYAY, scheme for the poor, needy and deserving individuals and families who have for long been left to rot at the bottom of the huge heap built by the society.

 

The question is who is to be blamed since the BJP’s Main Bhi Chowkdar campaign has reached the last corners of the country and a scheme like NYAY or Nyuntam Aay Yojna is yet to catch up? Among other things the answer lies in the communication gap between the different communication arms of the Congress. The party’s social media team is headed by film actor-turned-media player Divya Spandana. She obviously needs political content from her party peers of whom there should be no dearth because of Congress being always crowded by so many senior and experienced leaders and former ministers. But the fact that Congress’ social media campaign is way behind that of the BJP speaks of the gap between different wings of the older party.

 

Besides, this it is no secret why two former Congress spokespersons Tom Vadakkan and Priyanka Chaturvedi have to break ranks and join BJP and Shiv Sena respectively. This, indeed, points to bickering and heartburns within the media department of the Congress. Moreover, a former Union Minister Jaipal Reddy has rarely been seen at Congress Press conferences in past eight months or so after he was made a spokesman of the party by Rahul Gandhi. Thus, the sooner Congress puts its media department in order, the better for the party and the better for its rank and file.

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