Centre is hoping this will restore public confidence and ensure that corruption and violation of service rules are addressed promptly
The department of personnel and training (DoPT)’s decision to invite retired IAS officers to investigate allegations against serving IAS officers comes at a time when corruption charges and other violations of service rules have been on the rise among the country’s babus. With its eyes on the 2024 general elections, the Centre is hoping this will restore public confidence and ensure that corruption and violation of service rules are addressed promptly.
The fact that the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have arrested several IAS officers in connection with corruption cases in the past six months also underscores the need for the Centre to take swift action. Between 2011 and 2021, the CBI filed 662 chargesheets against 805 senior babus under the Centre’s jurisdiction. Additionally, 96 officers, including 55 still in service, faced chargesheets in 84 cases between January 2018 and June 2021. In the past six months alone, the CBI or ED have arrested at least seven IAS officers in connection with various corruption cases from such states as Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Punjab, Jharkhand and Haryana.
S. Radha Chauhan, secretary, DoPT, has said that the retired officers serving on these inquiry committees are experienced professionals who will ensure that due process is followed in each case. What are the odds this move will succeed? Do you expect the ex-babus to do a fair job of investigating serious charges against their own tribespeople?
Race for Maharashtra CS heats up
The race for the coveted post of Maharashtra chief secretary is heating up, with an IAS couple from the 1987 batch, Manoj Saunik and Sujata Saunik, vying for the position. Current chief secretary Manukumar Srivastava is set to step down on April 30, with his likely successor being one of the two Sauniks, or additional chief secretary (revenue) Nitin N. Kareer.
If appointed, Sujata Saunik would become the first woman to hold the position, breaking the glass ceiling in a male-dominated field. Manoj, sources have informed DKB, is favoured by both chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, for his quick thinking and sound decision-making.
The appointment is yet to be announced, and a lot can happen in the interim, including the emergence of other qualified candidates, it’s worth noting the potential significance of having a woman chief secretary of Maharashtra. Meanwhile, it is believed that the present chief secretary will most likely be vying to become the next chief information officer (CIC). What makes the wait interesting is that the winning candidate will have to be one who can work with both Shinde as well as Fadnavis, the two power centres in the state.
MHA moves to strengthen IB
The ministry of home affairs (MHA) has inducted 10 IPS officers into the “hard-core” of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the country’s internal security and counter-intelligence agency. If the term ‘hard-core’ seems ominous, as if this is some separate elite wing within IB, it most likely means that these officers will serve in IB until retirement.
The move has raised questions about the ministry’s intentions. While the reasons behind it are not entirely clear, there are a couple of possible explanations. One likely possibility is that the Centre is looking to strengthen the internal security apparatus in the face of increasing threats from both domestic and foreign actors. The recent Kiran Patel escapade in Kashmir and the Amritpal Singh incident in Punjab, which give the perception of intelligence goof-ups, likely made home minister Amit Shah and home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla decide to bring in fresh talent and expertise to help the agency stay ahead of evolving security challenges.
Another possibility is that the government is looking to fill key vacancies within the IB. the agency has reportedly been facing a shortage of staff in recent years, which has affected its ability to carry out its mandate effectively. By bringing in a new cohort of IPS officers, the ministry may be hoping to address this staff crunch and ensure that the IB is able to operate at full capacity.
But this may not be the only change in IB. The buzz is that the agency may see a major reshuffle and postings in the days ahead. So, watch this space!