New Delhi: The Modi administration appears to be gradually tightening its grip on how state governments appoint and promote Indian Police Service (IPS) officers. In its third such decision in the past eight months, the Home Office (MHA) has now made it mandatory for states to seek Union Government approval before promoting or appointing a senior officer. of the Indian Police Service (IPS) otherwise they risk having the secondment cancelled.
While several serving and retired officers told ThePrint this amounted to “overstepping,” “interfering,” and encroaching on “federal rights,” others argued that MHA interventions were necessary since some states would have taken advantage of the previous practice of notifying the central government only after appointing officers to senior positions.
“There seems to be a justification for issuing such orders for better management of cadres, although all these Center instructions also run the risk of being misused,” said N. Ramachandran, former director general of the police (DGP) and president. of the India Police Foundation (IPF), a police and law enforcement think tank.
“States are also guilty of inviting such central interference. There were dismal records of creating inappropriate positions and promoting officers out of turn. Some positions were created to bribe certain agents, while others were created to park troublesome agents,” he added.
The latest MHA directive, which ThePrint has seen, was sent to all Chief Secretaries of States on September 12. He said it is mandatory for State Governments to obtain Union Government approval before promoting or appointing an IPS officer to the “selection grade” – that is i.e. from the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP) and above. The MHA missive further observed that many states “routinely appoint IPS officers for promotion to higher ranks” without seeking approval.
Read also: ‘Chief Justice Appeal’: How an IPS Bihar officer ‘scammed’ the DGP into withdrawing an alcohol case
A story of 2 orders and 1 proposal
MHA’s September 12 letter refers to Rule 3(2) of the IPS (Remuneration) Rules 2016, which states that appointments at selection grade level and above “are subject to the availability of vacancies in these grades and, to this end, it is required, as the case may be, for the State executives or the mixed authorities of the executives, to seek the prior agreement of the central government on the number of vacant positions in each grade “.
The rule adds that any “appointment made without the prior consent of the Government of India shall be subject to disqualification”.
The MHA further wrote in its letter that the states “have provided insufficient contributions making it difficult to process such proposals” (regarding officers considered for nominations/promotions). He also pointed out that “some states are not responding to questions on the issue and as a result, proposals are being delayed.”
State governments have been asked to send proposals for promotions and appointments to the MHA for approval by November 15, along with details of the officers in question.
Earlier, in April, the MHA had proposed that IPS officers from states who have not served on the central delegation as SPs or Deputy Inspectors General (DIGs) could be barred from serving in central agencies. at higher levels. The MHA is said to have launched this proposal because the central government has the most vacancies at the SP/DIG levels and the states do not release many deputies at these ranks. However, no order has been issued in this regard, said a senior IPS officer serving at a central agency.
Shortly before, in February, the government approved an MHA proposal to scrap the lengthy process of establishing DIGs, the system by which state officers are chosen to serve in the Union government. This too was done to fill vacancies in the IPS.
‘Distressing’ and ‘reprehensible’
Several retired and senior IPS officers ThePrint spoke to said the latest MHA order signals “direct interference” in the administrative workings of the states.
“If state governments cannot decide where to post their officers and when to promote them, it is a serious interference in their administrative functioning,” said one state’s CEO, speaking to ThePrint on condition of anonymity. .
The DGP added that the letter from the MHA reflected that the central government as well as the state governments were “stressed by the control of the IPS cadres”. Of particular concern to him was that the IPS officers seemed to be on the “receiving side” of the problem since the MHA letter stated that any appointment could be rescinded if made without central government approval. .
“A similar order was also sent to IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officers in 2015, but it did not provide for cancellation. For IPS officers, the government added the line “subject to cancellation” , which is very serious,” he said.
ThePrint has a copy of the August 2015 letter that the cop referred to. It was sent by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to all Chief Secretaries and called on States to seek “prior clearance from the Government of India” before promoting IAS officers and dismissing them. appoint. This letter, however, did not mention the cancellation of appointments.
Former IPS officer Vappala Balachandran, who retired as special secretary to the Cabinet Secretariat, said the MHA proposal was unprecedented and “reprehensible”.
“This is clearly an excess on the part of the central government. There should be a study on that. It’s never happened before. The common practice for States was to send a communication to the Center after appointing or promoting an officer to higher positions. This is another example of obstructing federal principles and encroaching on states’ federal rights,” he said.
According to him, states should challenge the MHA’s proposal.
“States must register their protest. If the Center is prejudiced against a particular officer, it will reject proposals concerning him. It is also a way of restricting the rights of states to manage their cadres,” Balachandran said.
“Some states don’t follow the rules”
Among senior IAS and IPS officials whom ThePrint spoke to about the issue, some argued that the move could help bring more “discipline” to appointments.
The chief secretary of a state run by an opposition party has considered possible reasons for the letter.
“It seems to constrict, rather than distort, in nature. It is a carefully crafted letter that intends to achieve many unstated things without deviating from the given pattern,” he told ThePrint. “It is also a reminder to the states of the importance and authority of the MHA as the executive management authority.”
Another senior IAS official said states that had flouted the rules might be more “irritated” than others by the Union government “keeping a tab”.
“Some states do not follow rules for managing vacancies and communicating appropriately to the Center about promotion or appointment of officers. These states can get jittery,” he said.
“Executive management discipline is good,” he added, “as long as the Center does not enter the domain of states by interfering with their specific disciplinary actions or promoting powers.”
Read also : A month before his retirement, the IPS officer who led the investigation into Ishrat Jahan was removed from his post