Ashok Khemka flags as ‘illegal’, against ‘SC directions’ transfer and posting of officers into IAS cadre
Flags non-functional Civil Services Board, also questions appointment of non-cadre officers on IAS cadre posts.
The postings and transfers of officers in Haryana are not being done with the prior approval of the Civil Services Board (CSB), senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka has flagged. Calling such postings and transfers “illegal”, “not permissible under the Cadre Rules” and “in contravention of the Supreme Court’s directions,” Khemka has urged Chief Secretary Vijai Vardhan to reactivate the non-functional CSB in Haryana and apprise Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar about the relevant provisions of the Cadre Rules through his recently appointed Chief Principal Secretary DS Dhesi.
In a letter written to Vardhan, Khemka quoted various Cadre Rules and even cited several cases which, the senior IAS officer said, should have been routed through the CSB. Vardhan, however, was not available for his comments on the letter.
The CSB in a state comprises Chief Secretary, Financial Commissioner (Revenue) and Secretary (Personnel department). Rules 7, 8 and 9 of Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules deal with the postings, the methodology of recommendation to be adopted by CSB, how cadre and ex-cadre posts are to be filled by cadre officers and temporary appointment of non-cadre officers on cadre posts. Although, the Chief Minister of a state is authorised to amend, modify or reject the recommendations of the CSB, but he/she has to record the reasons of his decision “in writing”.
Calling transfers and postings without prior recommendations of the CSB as a “violation of the rules in letter and spirit and grossly contumacious of the Hon’ble Supreme Supreme Court”, Khemka has even raised questions on the post-facto approvals of the CSB as “rubber stamping” and “undoing civil service reforms”.
In the letter, Khemka has also pointed out the postings of non-cadre officers on cadre posts in Haryana, without following the procedures laid down in Cadre Rules.
Rule 9 of the IAS (Cadre) Rules say: “A non-cadre officer may be appointed temporarily to a cadre post only when no suitable cadre officer is available for filling the vacancy and for a maximum period of three months. For continuing a non-cadre officer on a cadre post beyond three months, prior approval of the Central Government is mandatory. Besides, advice of UPSC is required if the non-cadre officer is to be continued beyond six months. Consultation with UPSC is a requirement under Article 320 (3) of the Constitution”.
Citing certain specific instances of such appointments, Khemka 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”.
Besides these two cases, Khemka also highlighted the appointments of IPS officer Shatrujeet Singh Kapoor and IFS officer MD Sinha urging government to refer these cases to central government for approval in case the state government wants the duo to continue on cadre posts of Principal Secretary beyond three months.
As per latest cadre review in December, 2018, there exist 13 sanctioned cadre posts in Haryana including one of Additional Chief Secretary and 12 of Principal Secretaries. They perform the duties and functions of Administrative Secretaries laid down in the Rules of Business of the Government. As against 13 sanctioned posts, a total of 26 cadre officers are at currently appointed on the cadre posts of Additional Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries in Haryana.
“Today, some cadre Additional Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries are grossly under-utilized, with not more than an average of a few hours’ workload during the day. Under these circumstances, there is no justification for appointment of non-cadre officers on the cadre post of Principal Secretary. Moreover, one non-cadre officer continues on a cadre post for 8 months now and another non-cadre officer held a cadre post for almost 6 months without approval of the Central Government. This is illegal and impermissible under the Rules,” Khemka wrote.
Seeking the reactivation of the non-functional CSB in Haryana and quoting Edmund Burke, Khemka wrote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.