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Dilli Ka Babu: CAT sets a precedent

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Published : Apr 28, 2019, 4:56 am IST
Updated : Apr 28, 2019, 6:28 am IST

The Tribunal noted that the unauthorised period of absence of the applicant was six years and one month.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Officers on a foreign posting who do not report to their cadre state for duty are not eligible for the Voluntary Retirement Scheme or pension — the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order has directed. The Tribunal dismissed the case of former senior IAS officer, Sanjeev Singh Ahluwalia, for voluntary retirement from service and pensionary benefits. Mr Ahluwalia is a 1980-batch UP cadre officer.

According to sources, in 2005 Mr Ahluwalia was on central deputation holding the post of joint secretary in the department of disinvestment, ministry of finance. At his request, he was repatriated to his parent cadre before completion of the term of deputation. Subsequently, the babu got the permission to accept a World Bank assignment to serve in Sudan for a year between September 18, 2005, and September 17, 2006. However, he never reported back to his cadre state after the completion of his one-year foreign posting.

In April 2010, Mr Ahluwalia forwarded an application seeking voluntary retirement under the terms of the relevant All India Service Rules. The Centre rejected his application claiming he wasn’t given any extension beyond a year of his foreign posting, and yet he did not report on duty after the expiry of his foreign assignment.

The Tribunal noted that the unauthorised period of absence of the applicant was six years and one month. It further observed that if a member of the service who is on valid leave for a period exceeding five years can be deemed to have resigned, the applicant, who remained on unauthorised absence for six years, cannot keep himself on a higher pedestal.

Unrest in Modi’s PMO

Prime Minister Narendra Modi winning a second term could actually result in an exodus of babus from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). It is learnt that several senior bureaucrats in the PMO have sought premature retirement or transfer to some other posting. Those in the know say that there are many officials in other ministries who too want out. In almost all cases, the reason for wanting to leave is the lack of synergy with the PM and the small group of advisers who control government policy. But some feel that the babus are actually unhappy since Mr Modi runs a famously tight ship and also a rather punishing work schedule! His top-down approach has also created a wedge between the routine bureaucracy and the leader.

Of course, such movement is not unheard of, especially at the end of every government’s tenure and the beginning of another. Depending on how one looks at it, either Mr Modi is succeeding in his efforts to streamline governmental administration, or that the usually complacent bureaucracy is unwilling to adapt to his more hands-on style of functioning.

A matter of seniority

It’s been nearly five years since Telangana state was created out of Andhra Pradesh, but there are still unresolved issues relating to the bureaucracy between them.

Recently, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) has directed the state reorganisation wings of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to sort out discrepancies in the seniority list of inspector of police (civil) at the earliest in consultation with the heads of departments of the two states.

In a letter sent by the MHA under secretary, R. Venkatesan, the two states were advised to settle the seniority dispute with respect to feeder grade and initiate the allocation of this category of officers as decided by the sub-committee constituted in this regard.

The development is seen as significant as it upholds the contention of Telangana that the revised seniority lists of home department employees, specifically inspectors (civil), DSPs (civil), additional SPs (civil) and SP (non-cadre) were against the agreed principles.

Tags: narendra modi, central administrative tribunal, sanjeev singh ahluwalia