Bureaucrat Officer: a savior- a scapegoat- a destroyer
By Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh
The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is the administrative arm of the All India Services. Considered the premier Civil Service of India, the IAS is one of the three arms of All India Services along with the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Forest Service (IFoS). Members of these three services serve the Government of India as well as the individual status. IAS officers may also be deployed to various public sector undertakings. As with other countries following Westminster Parliamentary system of government, the IAS is a part of the permanent bureaucracy of the nation and is an inseparable part of the executive of the Government of India. As such, the bureaucracy remains politically neutral and guarantees administrative continuity to the ruling party or coalition. Upon confirmation of service, an IAS officer serves a probationary period as a sub-divisional magistrate. Completion of this probation is followed by an executive administrative role in a district as a district magistrate and collector which last several years, as long as sixteen years in some states. After this tenure, an officer may be promoted to head a whole state division, as a divisional Commissioner. On attaining the higher scale of the pay matrix, IAS officers may lead government department or ministries. In these roles, IAS officers represent the country at the International level in bilateral and multilateral negotiations. If serving on deputation, they may be employed in intergovernmental organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank or the United Nations or its agencies. IAS officers are also involved in the conduct of election in India as mandated by the Election Commission of India. The modern Indian Administrative Service was created under Article 312(2) in part XIV of the Constitution of India and the All India Services Act, 1952.
The typical functions performed by an IAS officer are:
• To collect revenue and function as court officials in matters of revenue and crime(for the revenue courts and criminal Courts of executive magistrate),to maintain law and order ,to implement Union and State Government policies at the grassroots level when posted to field positions, i.e as Sub-Divisional magistrates, additional magistrates, district magistrates and divisional Commissioners and to act as an agent of the government in the field, i.e to act as an intermediary between the public and government.
• To handle the administration and daily proceedings of the government including the formulation and implementation of policy in consultation with the ministers-in charge of a specific ministry or department
• To contribute to policy formulation and to make a final decision in certain matters with the agreement of the minister concern or the Council of ministers(depending upon the weights of the matter),when posted at the higher level in the Government of India as a Joint Secretary, additional secretary, Special Secretary or Secretary equivalent, Secretary and cabinet Secretary and in state Government as Secretary, Principal Secretary, additional chief Secretary or special Chief secretary and Chief Secretary.
Upon retirement, high ranking IAS officers have occupied Constitutional posts such as the Chief Election Commissioner of India, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and Chairperson of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).They have also become members of administrative tribunals such as the National Green Tribunal and the Central Administrative Tribunal as well as Chief of regulators including Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Reserve Bank of India. If a serving IAS officer is appointed to a Constitutional post such as Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Chief Election Commissioner of India or Chairperson of UPSC or as head of a Statutory authority, such as the National Human Rights Commission, the National Commission for Women or the Central Information Commission, he/she is deemed to have retired from service. IAS officers can also be deputed to private Organizations for a fixed tenure under Rule 6(2) (ii) of the Indian Administrative service (Cadre) Rules, 1954. If IAS officers execute the services rendered on them in public interest sincerely and honestly, they are the savior of people. However the IAS is the hamstrung of political interference. Outdated personnel procedure and a mixed record on policy implementation and it is therefore need of urgent reform. The Indian Government should reshape recruitment and promotion process, improve performance-based assessment of individual’s officers and adopt safeguards that promote accountability while protecting bureaucrats from political meddling. Several think tanks and media outlets have argued that IAS is hamstrung by political influence within the service. It has been reported that many local political leaders have been seen to have interfered with IAS officer. Politicians have also exerted pressure on IAS officers by repeatedly transferring them, suspending them, beating them and in some extreme cases, killing them. A deputy Commissioner of one hill district was removed as DC of the same district and transferred to some other department for exposing the boundary dispute between India (Manipur) and Myanmar (Burma) which was a public issue in Manipur, known as boundary pillar no 81 issue. This makes bureaucrats’ officers’ scapegoats. While hearing T.S.R Subramanian vs Union of India, the Supreme Court of India ruled that IAS officers and other civil servants-were not required to act on oral instruction given by politicians as they” Undermined credibility.
In spite of all these, IAS officers have also involved in corruption and crimes for which many convicted of crimes. In 2015, it was reported by the Government of India that a hundred IAS officers had come under scrutiny by the CBI for alleged corruption. In 2017 Government records showed that 379 IAS officers had deliberately failed to submit details of their immovable assets (IPR). Since 2007, a number of Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries have been arrested in cases of graft or money laundering. IAS officers have been found amassing disproportionate assets and wealth varying from Rs.200 crore (equivalent to Rs 254 crore or USD 37 million in 2018) to Rs 350 crore (equivalent to Rs 587 crore or USD 85 million in 2018).A retired IAS officer who was the Deputy Commissioner of one hill district of Manipur was arrested by Imphal West district Police in the night of 24th June ,2019 in connection with the misappropriation of compensation of villagers for the expansion of NH-102,Imphal Moreh road and remanded to police custody for eight days by Judicial Magistrate (First Class),Chandel. The bail plea of the said (Retd) IAS officer was rejected on 2nd July by Special Judge (PC) Imphal West and remanded up to 5th July in judicial custody for further investigation. Which are the destroying acts of IAS officers. In 2016, it was reported that the Government would provide the means to prosecute corrupt IAS officers with the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, agreeing to receive request from private citizens seeking punitive measures against IAS officers even without supporting documentation. In 2007, a CBI special Court in Delhi sentenced a former Union coal Secretary and two other IAS officers to two years in prison for their involvement in the coal allocation scam. In 2017, it was reported by the Department of Personnel and Training, part of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions that since 2014, one IAS officers was prematurely retired from service, ten IAS officers had been deemed to have resigned, five had their pensions cut and a further eight IAS officers suffered a cut in remuneration. In 2018 the Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Jitendra Singh, informed the Lok Sabha that disciplinary proceedings were underway against 36 IAS officers. Sometimes news of missing IAS officers has also come out. In 2015, “The Telegraph” reported that 12 IAS officers had gone missing and has not reported to either the Union or the State Government for their allocated cadre. It was believed that they were working in foreign countries for companies such as Microsoft for more lucrative pay. The Asian Age, later reported that the services of three of the 12 officers were likely to be terminated due to prolonged absence from service. However, some of the notable IAS officers whose names are worth mentioning are: Naresh Chandra (1956 batch IAS of Rajasthan); T.N Seshan (1955 batch of Tamil Nadu);Narinder Nath Vohra ( 1959 batch of Punjab); Vinod Rai (1972 batch of Kerala );Duvvuri Subbrao ( 1972 batch of Andhra Pradesh); Yogendra Narain (1965 batch of Uttar Pradesh). Their contribution in public service and Nation building were incredible and will remain forever, at the same time they are the role model of the new IAS officers.
(Writer can be reached to:[email protected])
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