Explained: Why Haryana posting non-cadre officers on cadre posts irks DoPT

What is the latest controversy over posting an IPS officer on cadre post meant for IAS officers in Haryana? What do the rules say?

The Haryana government has come under the scanner of Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India for alleged flagrant violation of the All India Services (Cadre) Rules as state government continues to post non-cadre officers from IPS, IRS, IFS to the posts that are meant for IAS officers, without seeking a mandatory prior approval from the Centre.

The Indian Express explains the issue and how the state government’s actions may not go well with the DoPT.

What is the latest controversy over posting an IPS officer on cadre post meant for IAS officers in Haryana?

On September 1, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajeev Arora issued transfer and posting orders of 10 IPS officers. Of these, one officer Kala Ramachandran was transferred as Principal Secretary (Transport) with additional charge of ADGP, Crime Against Women. The file was sent to Home Minister Anil Vij for approval. Vij, however, halted Ramachandran’s transfer, noting on the file that it was “against the guidelines/ instructions of DoPT, posting of non-cadre officer at IAS cadre post”. He approved the transfer posting of other nine officers.

Overruling Vij, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s Chief Principal Secretary DS Dhesi wrote on the file: “1. CM has approved the proposals (transfer/postings of all 10 officers); 2. Permission of DoPT shall be taken, as per extant instructions , in respect of…[Ramachandran]”.

As the file was sent back to the home department, on September 2, Vij wrote: “Expedite the process for obtaining permission from DoPT. Till the permission is received, Mrs. Kala Ramachandran shall not be relieved for her new assignment”.

Meanwhile, chief secretary Vijai Vardhan too raised objections on the transfer of IPS officer on a cadre post meant for IAS officers. He too proposed that the state government should expedite the process to seek approval from Centre before the officer is relieved by the home department for her new assignment. On Sunday (September 5), CM overruled both Vij and Vardhan. Eventually, Vardhan issued the orders of transfer of the IPS officer as Principal Secretary (Transport).

What do the rules say?

All India Services (Cadre) Rules, 1954 cover such transfer and postings of non-cadre officers on cadre posts meant for IAS.

Rule 9: Temporary appointment of non-cadre officer to cadre posts

9 (1) A cadre post in a State shall not be filled by a person who is not a cadre officer except in the following case; namely:- (a) if there is no suitable cadre officer available for filling the vacancy: Provided that when a suitable cadre officer becomes available, the person who is not a cadre officer, shall be replaced by the cadre officer; Provided further that if it is proposed to continue the person who is not a cadre officer beyond a period of three months, the State Government shall obtain the prior approval of the Central Government for such continuance; (b) if the vacancy is not likely to last for more than three months: Provided that if the vacancy is likely to exceed a period of three months, the State Government shall obtain the prior approval of the Central Government for continuing the person who is not a cadre officer beyond the period of three months.

9(2) A cadre post shall not be filled by a person who is not a cadre officer except in accordance with the following principles, namely: (a) if there is a Select List in force, the appointment or appointments shall be made in the order of the names of the officers in the Select List; (b) if it is proposed to depart from the order of names appearing in the Select List, the State Government shall forthwith make a proposal to that effect to Central Government together with the reasons therefor and the appointment shall be made only with the prior approval of the Central Government; (c) if a Select List is not in force and it is proposed to appoint a non-Select List officer, the State Government shall forthwith make a proposal to that effect to the Central Government together with the reasons therefor and the appointment shall be made only with the prior approval of the Central Government;

9 (3) Where a cadre post is likely to be filled by a person who is not a cadre officer for a period exceeding six months, the Central Government shall report the full facts to the Union Public Service Commission with the reasons for holding that no suitable officer is available for filling the post and may in the light of the advice given by the Union Public Service Commission give suitable direction to the State Government concerned;

9 (4) Notwithstanding anything contained in these rules, in relation to the State of Nagaland and the Union Territories, a cadre post may be filled by a person who is a member of the Indian Frontier Administrative Service and was recruited to the Service prior to the 1st of January, 1968.

How did the DoPT intervene?

Senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka, on November 3, 2020 and December 9, 2020, had flagged the issue of such transfers in Haryana. He sent representations to state government, CM, DoPT and Prime Minister’s Office.

March 24, 2021: DoPT directed Haryana chief secretary to submit detailed comments on the issues raised by Khemka in his representations regarding posting of non-cadre officers on cadre posts in state in violation of Rule 9 of AIS (Cadre) Rules “to ensure and compliance of the Rules in making postings/ transfers/ appointments of Haryana in future”.

June 8, 2021: the state government submitted its reply to the DoPT.

June 29, 2021: the DoPT again wrote to the state government that the reply furnished by it did not address the issues raised by Khemka and state government also did not submit a “detailed report as solicited by DoPT regarding posting of non-cadre officers on cadre posts in Haryana without obtaining prior approval of the Central Government and therefore the same was in violation of Rule 9 of AIS (Cadre) Rules”.

August 19, 2021: the DoPT again directed the state government to send “detailed comments on issues raised by Khemka”.

What is the state government’s take on such transfers and postings?

The state government continues to make such transfers without taking approval from the central government. Currently, there are 10 such non-cadre officers who are occupying the cadre posts meant for IAS officers. On the other hand, there are 28 IAS officers in apex/HAG scales serving in the state, currently. The government says, against the 12 posts of principal secretaries, 11 are filled implying that there will be one more non-cadre officer who shall be posted on another cadre post. The government says that such transfers “promote fair competition and ensures delivery of services”. It adds that there are 47 principal secretaries against 12 sanctioned posts, while the designated posts are only for chief secretary, financial commissioner (revenue) and principal secretary to CM.

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