Retd IAS Officer Moves SC Against Lateral Entry To Post Of Jt Secys [Read Petition]
An IAS officer, who retired as the Secretary to the Government of India, has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Centre’s move inviting lateral entries at the level of joint secretary which is the third highest non-political executive rank.
Dr. Chandrapal has challenged the “shocking” June 10 advertisement issued by the Department of Personnel and Training inviting applications from “outstanding individuals” for the post of 10 joint secretaries willing to contribute towards nation building.
“…appointment to such a superior post on contract basis for a period as short as three years and that too of persons, who has no experience in serving the nation as is required by duly appointed Civil Servants to attain this rank is an arbitrary exercise of power, which cannot remain uninfluenced by political interference,” said Chandrapal, who retired as Secretary in the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises and also served as principal advisor in Planning Commission besides various other postings.
Submitting that “members of civil services are considered the backbone of administration of our country, who carry out the policy decisions taken by the public through their elected representatives. The members of Civil Service are recruited on basis of merit and they are required to serve the nation right from the level of sub-division, while moving up the ladder of promotion up to the rank of the Secretary to the Union or State Government”, the petitioner said the Constitution guarantees protection of civil servants from any political influence under Article 311.
“..the lateral policy notification makes the choice of a lateral entrant arbitrary. Anyone who is close to the incumbent government will get the position, making it difficult for bureaucrats who came through UPSC,” he said in the petition drawn by advocate Sudhanshu Chandra and filed by advocate Nirmal Kumar Ambastha.
Adding that “selection criteria of the joint secretary are arbitrary as notification does not specify about any criteria. Hence it is violative Article 14 of Constitution of India”, the petition relies on the apex court decision in State of Rajasthan vs. Sevanivatra Karamchari Hitkari Samiti wherein it was held that the wisdom in a policy decision of the government, as such is not justifiable as such policy decision is wholly capricious, arbitrary and whimsical thereby offending the rule of law as enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution.
The petition said that a “civil servant, while working on various posts, such as Sub-Divisional Officer/Magistrate, District Magistrate, Divisional Commissioners, etc., gains experience in working for general public and further experiences the need of the general public”.
He submitted that the Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India does not have any power to make any appointment without recommendation by the Union Public Service Commission and that too on a contract basis.
Lateral entry sans understanding of ground realities
Chandrapal said the lateral entry would bypass the three stages of UPSC Civil Services Exam – Preliminary, Main Exam, and Interview and also the present arrangement in which 1/3rd of the vacancies in Indian Civil Services is filled by promotion of eligible candidates working in different states services.
“…the candidates from corporate or private sectors are likely to lack the understanding of India’s ground realities, which the experience and training process over the years in government sector provides through its various attachments and programs,” he said.
The petition also stressed on conflict of interest in allowing individuals from private sectors in administration.
“…if private sector people are allowed to work with government, there will be disturbance in balance and inequitable sharing of benefits and discontent among the government personnel.
“It will be prejudicial to current set of bureaucrats who have to report to these lateral appointees… the officers who had come up through UPSC recruitment spend their professional lives in postings at grass root levels of administration rising rationally through the seat rules,” he said while urging the apex court to declare the advertisement unconstitutional.
Read the Petition Here