Even after 72 years of Independence, the country has failed to bring in the much-needed administrative reforms in civil services and link promotions to acquired knowledge and performance.
In fact, favoritism and preferential treatment to some services is the norm rather than an exception, say senior officers.
This is ironic, given the fact that in the historic judgment given by the Supreme Court (SC) in 1991 in the Mohan Kumar Singhania vs Union of India case by a three-judge Bench, it was recorded that “there is no denying the fact that the civil services being the topmost service in the country has got to be kept at height, distinct from other services since top echelons have to govern a wide variety of departments.”
However, despite the apex court establishing civil services as the top service of the country, the fact remains that the Government of India (GOI) is not treating all services on a par. This is despite the fact that in a few services, especially the Central Secretariat Services (CSS) the candidates selected have higher merit in comparison to a few other Group A services.
“Promotional prospects and the empanelment process are not uniform and there is serious favoritism towards a few services. It is generally believed that IAS/IFS candidates are brighter than other services and similarly Group A officers have more merit than Group B officers. But in
reality the situation is different” explained a government official of CSS cadre who is fighting for equity.
In fact, CSS cadre officers feel that they are treated as “inferior” to other Group A services officers recruited by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) like the Indian Engineering Services (IES), Indian Economic Service (IES), Indian Statistical Services (ISS) and so on.
The CSS is the most important organ of the Central Government and earlier its officers used to rise to the post of Secretary to the Government of India, but gradually the IAS lobby muscled in to get postings in the national Capital. Delhi has always been considered a plum posting due to the amenities, facilities and good schools in the Capital, apart from proximity to the corridors of power. Hence over the years, the CSS has been reduced to just a subordinated service.
For instance, in Group A services, all officers get the Junior Administrative Grade (JAG) and Non-Functional Selection Grade (NFSG) in the 9th and 13th year of selection. However, candidates selected in 1998 through UPSC civil services exam who were allocated CSSC got JAG in the 16th year of their selection and are yet to get NFSG.
While IAS/IFS/IA&AS officers get their Senior Administrative Grade (SAG) in the 16th year of selection and other services start getting benefits from the 18th or 22nd year of selection, for CSS officers there is no SAG. To claim SAG the CSS officers have to undergo an empanelment process for the post of Joint Secretary.
In fact, promotions for CSS men virtually stop at the level of Director, which is allocated to all officers of Group A services upon completion of 13 years of service.
In some cases, candidates were allocated Group B services since they did not give the complete service preference in spite of having higher merit than several Group A officers.
A close examination of scores of candidates selected in 1998 reveals that the first ranker of IAS scored 63.56 percent and 28th ranker 59.39 percent. Both belonged to the General Category (GC) and there was a difference of 4 percent in the score.
An OBC candidate securing rank 143 for the same year scored 55.52 percent and a Scheduled Caste (SC) category candidate with 195th rank scored 54.73 percent while a Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidate with 370 ranks scored 52.95 percent.
Reforms equity in central staffing scheme needed – For better governance at the Centre and State, there should be an adequate exchange of CSS officers with IAS/IPS officers on deputation in State administration. For more: https://www.dailypioneer.com/