Explained: IAS Cadre rules and the old 'Centre vs states' row on central deputation

The Centre has proposed to change rules for central deputation of IAS officers. Here's what they are, and what the process is currently
Last Updated : 21 January 2022, 08:52 IST

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The Centre has proposed an amendment to the IAS Cadre Rules which would enable it to post IAS officers on central deputation bypassing reservations of the state governments, a move which will give the government more say in the deputation process.

The proposal has ruffled feathers in West Bengal as CM Mamata Banerjee wrote to PM Modi, expressing concern that these changes will create a “fear psychosis“ among officers and impact their performance. Banerjee wrote to the PM twice in eight days, saying that the amendment will “destroy” the federal fabric and basic structure of the Constitution.

What is the present deputation rule?

According to Rule-6 (1) of the IAS (Cadre) Rules-1954, "a cadre 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 or under a company, association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not, which is wholly or substantially owned or controlled by the Central Government or by another State Government."

The rule further provides in case of a disagreement between the Centre and the states that "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 Centre.

What are the proposed amendments?

This proposal comes as various state/joint cadres were found to be not sponsoring an adequate number of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers as part of the central deputation reserve even though the personnel ministry had flagged the issue several times.

In its amendment, the Centre has proposed to insert a provision in Rule 6 of IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954, which stated that any IAS officer could be posted on central deputation with the concurrence of the state government concerned.

The Centre has proposed to keep this part of the rule intact, but to add: "Provided that each State Government shall make available for deputation to the Central Government, such number of eligible officers of various levels to the extent of the Central Deputation Reserve prescribed under Regulations referred to in Rule 4 (1), adjusted proportionately by the number of officers available with the State Government concerned vis-a-vis the total authorised strength of the State Cadre at a given point of time."

"The actual number of officers to be deputed to the central government shall be decided by the Centre in consultation with the state government concerned," it added.

Incidentally, the Centre, in its proposal to amend the IAS Cadre (Rules), has recently asked the state governments to send lists of IAS officers for central deputation.

What are West Bengal's issues with the proposal?

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to PM Narendra Modi, urging him to withdraw the proposal, as it would "create a fear psychosis among officers and impact their performance". She warned him of "greater movements" in case the Centre does not reconsider its decision.

"I express my strong reservations to the approach followed by the Central government in proposing such amendment to the Cadre Rules which unilaterally mandates the state government to make such a number of officers available for deputation as prescribed under (the) Central Deputation Reserve," the letter read.

How does deputation work currently?

The Union government asks states to provide an "offer list" with officers of the All India Services which includes IAS, IPS and IFS officers willing to go on central deputation.

Central deputation has been a hot topic of debate among states and the Centre, with the former getting their way in most cases despite Rule 6(1)'s assurance that states must give effect to the Centre's decision. Even within the new proposal, the Centre can decide the number of officers going on central deputation "in consultation with the State Government concerned".

In the latest examples from West Bengal, the Centre asked Alapan Bandyopadhyay, an IAS officer from the 1987 batch, to report to the Centre on the day of his retirement. Neither did he report to the Centre, nor did Banerjee relieve him of his duties. He is now retired and serves as Chief Advisor to CM Banerjee.

After BJP President J P Nadda's motorcade was attacked allegedly by TMC supporters in Kolkata, the Centre asked the three IPS officers responsible for his security to be sent on central deputation, but the state refused.

In the J Jayalalithaa government in 2001, the state police’s CB-CID raided former CM M Karunanidhi and arrested him along with other DMK colleagues who were ministers in the Vajpayee government. The Centre asked Tamil Nadu to send three IPS officers to the central deputation a month later. Jayalalithaa refused, asked other CMs to stand up for the rights of states.

(With PTI inputs)

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Published 21 January 2022, 06:31 IST

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