New Delhi: A year after their appointment, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has asked the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to respond to a petition, alleging irregularities in the recruitment of three of the nine professionals hired by the government as joint secretaries through lateral entry.
The CAT notice issued in August came in response to a petition filed by an Indian Forest Service officer, Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who had highlighted concerns raised by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) regarding the recruitment process followed by the UPSC.
According to DoPT documents accessed by ThePrint, while the UPSC picked nine professionals from the private and government sectors through lateral entry last year, three of them did not meet the eligibility criteria.
The advertisement issued by the government inviting applications for the positions of joint secretary in the central government in 2018 stated that those working in public sector undertakings (PSUs), autonomous bodies, statutory organisations, universities, etc. should be working at “comparable levels” as joint secretaries.
In his petition to the CAT, Chaturvedi had asked the tribunal “to restrain the Respondents (the Centre and UPSC) from filling up of posts of Joint Secretary equivalent to Joint Secretary rank and also posts above in rank of Joint Secretary, in Central Government, through contract system, in future”.
ThePrint reached DoPT spokesperson via text messages, email and phone calls, asking if the concerns raised by the department were forwarded to the UPSC, but there was no response. ThePrint waited for a week before publishing this report.
According to the DoPT’s observations, which were raised by its Establishment Office in 2019, two of the officers picked were holding the posts at central public sector undertakings with a pay scale of Rs 37,400-67,000, which are not equivalent to the joint secretary level.
The pay scale of another professional, who was holding the post of a general manager in a state PSU, is not known, the DoPT had said.
This means that while, according to the government advertisement, those recruited from PSUs should have been working at the same level as joint secretaries, the UPSC picked two candidates, who were working at the director level — a rank lower than that of a joint secretary — and also picked a person whose pay scale was not known.
According to a source familiar with the development, the DoPT’s Establishment Office made these observations as part of its assessment of the candidates picked by the UPSC.
The DoPT documents showed that it had sought answers for the irregularities from its Recruitment Rules (RR) Division.
UPSC responsible for selection
In its response, the RR Division told the DoPT that it was the UPSC that was responsible for the selection process.
“With the approval of the competent authority, the entire responsibility of undertaking the selection process and declaration of successful candidates was entrusted to UPSC,” it said.
“Therefore, this Division was not required to undertake further verification of the selection process carried out by UPSC or with regard to eligibility of the candidates recommended by the UPSC,” it added.
The RR Division also said one of the modalities adopted by the UPSC to recruit professionals was that their salary should be Rs 20 lakh per annum at least during any of the last two years, and that was verified by the UPSC.