New Delhi: The central government has paused the merger of the Jammu & Kashmir cadre for IAS, IPS and IFoS (Indian Forest Service) into the Union Territory cadre for now, after officers complained it might lead to confusion, ThePrint has learnt.
The J&K cadre of the All India Services ceased to exist for fresh inductees when the Modi government recategorised the state as two union territories, Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh, after the scrapping of Article 370 in August 2019.
According to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, which came into force in October 2019, the cadre was to be merged into the AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram-Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre. The law, however, stated that officers already serving in the J&K cadre at the time would continue in the existing cadre.
The cadre-controlling authority of AGMUT is the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), while that for all other state cadres is the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
Sources told ThePrint that officers posted with the Jammu & Kashmir government had approached the central government with fears that the merger will create confusion.
“Someone who was recruited in 2019 will have a different reporting authority (MHA), and someone who is recruited before 2019 will have a different reporting authority (DoPT),” a senior officer from the J&K government said. “This will create unnecessary confusion.”
Another officer said this segregation could create “differences in the sincerity of officers as well”.
“Those coming from the union territory cadre would know their stint in J&K is temporary, while the others would think they have to stay here… Either all the officers should be floating or all should be permanent,” the officer said.
ThePrint reached DoPT spokesperson Shambhu Chaudhary via text message for a comment, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
A DoPT officer, however, confirmed the issue had been raised with the central government and said the merger has been put on hold.
No clarity on road ahead
Although the merger is on hold, no officers will be recruited in the Jammu & Kashmir cadre through the 2019 civil service examination, for which interviews are scheduled to be held soon, one of the J&K government officers quoted above said.
“There is no J&K cadre for those officers… But going ahead, there is no clarity on what will happen,” the officer added.
It was reported last year that the possibility of a merger had left serving officers confused and unsure of what awaits them
“The Prime Minister and Home Minister have said on record that the UT status of Jammu & Kashmir is a temporary provision… Then what sense does it make to permanently merge the J&K cadre with the UT cadre?” a senior J&K-cadre IAS officer, who is currently on central deputation, had said.
Meanwhile, the central government Tuesday decided to increase the cadre strength of IAS, IPS and IFoS officers for Jammu and Kashmir, a decision aimed at strengthening governance.
After Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla chaired a second meeting of the Joint Committee on Service (JCoS) matters for the union territories of Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh, Tuesday, the cadre strengths of IAS, IPS and IFoS in J&K were reportedly proposed at 191, 154 and 106, respectively (excluding posts in Ladakh). The present cadre strength is 137, 147 and 100, respectively.
Officers also said an extensive exercise is underway to formulate a transfer policy for UT officers to Ladakh, which will be finalised soon. A special package of incentives is also being planned for the employees who will be posted in Ladakh, the officers added.
This is an updated version of the report