A panel headed by the state CS Durga Shankar, including other senior IAS officers, will recommend names of candidates suitable for the job
Several state governments find it difficult to find a serving IAS officer to investigate another IAS officer who is facing an inquiry. Often such officers have to set aside their departmental duties to attend to the probe. There is also the prickly question of finding an officer who is senior to the person who is facing an inquiry. But Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has found a solution that may circumvent such issues and ensure time-bound completion of such inquiries.
The UP government has now decided to form a committee of retired bureaucrats for the task. The state’s department of appointment and personnel has reportedly invited applications from retired IAS officers who would be interested in serving on the committee. A panel headed by the state chief secretary Durga Shankar Mishra, including other senior IAS officers, will recommend names of candidates suitable for the job.
Sources have informed DKB that the retired IAS officers will be assigned cases of departmental inquiries against their serving brethren, including principal secretaries, additional chief secretaries, and the chief secretary. All inquiries will have to be completed within 180 days. While Dr. Devesh Chaturvedi, additional chief secretary of the department of appointment and personnel, is confident about the plan’s efficacy, some fear that it may build more distrust among the bureaucrats. Serving officers may discover the benefits, beyond just cadre respect to actively listening to recently retired seniors. How this may warp decision-making, is an arena fraught with possibilities.
Punjab seeks ad hoc DGP
A classic feature of Indian bureaucracy is that it mirrors whatever political dispensation holds the reins of power. After the AAP victory in Punjab, several senior bureaucrats have been trying to find their feet in the new administration, or even outside it.
According to sources, the current director-general of police (DGP) V.K. Bhawra has applied for two months’ leave, which paves the way for chief minister Bhagwant Mann to appoint an acting DGP. Apparently, Mr Bhawra has requested a Central deputation and the state government has accepted his request and forwarded it to the Centre.
Mr Bhawra is yet another high-profile IPS officer who plans to move out of Punjab after the AAP government took charge. Former Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta was recently appointed as the new director-general of the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Mr Gupta’s wife, senior IAS officer Vini Mahajan who was chief secretary in the state, is now working as Union secretary in the ministry of water resources and river development.
According to sources, there are several contenders for Mr Bhawra’s post in Punjab Police, with many punters betting on Prabodh Kumar, a 1988-batch IPS officer, who is the senior-most among IPS officers in Punjab. However, Harpreet Singh Sidhu, Gaurav Yadav and S.S. Chauhan are also being seen as frontrunners for the position of acting DGP. Is there a dark horse among the contenders? We’ll wait and see.
Haryana’s babu crisis deepens
Haryana is facing a shortage of IAS officers in the state. The crisis is certainly severe enough for chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar to raise the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At the same time, Mr Khattar is reportedly exploring the option of granting an extension to all IAS officers who are due to retire this year.
The hitch, sources have informed DKB, is that the state government can only give a three-month extension; for a longer period, it needs the Centre’s nod.
Sources say that 11 IAS officers in Haryana are scheduled to retire this year, which will create many vacancies at the top. Since the number of officers in subsequent batches is not sufficient, the government is rightly concerned that it will face a dearth of senior officers. Apparently, there is a precedent of officials continuing to hold office after retirement at the Centre, and Mr Khattar is hoping to get the PMO’s nod to replicate the same in Haryana to tide over the crisis.
Presently, due to the scarcity, most senior IAS officers are handling two or even three departments. If the 11 IAS officers are allowed to retire by the year-end, the remaining officers will be forced to handle five to eight departments. Clearly, that’s not viable. So, the state government has now pinned its hopes on the Centre allowing it to retain the services of the retiring officers to keep the wheels of administration moving.