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Modi govt pulls up Nagaland for ‘illegally’ posting 6 non-IAS officers as district collectors

DoPT has written to Nagaland chief secy that there are at least 9 IAS officers who should’ve been appointed instead. Governor also highlights ‘misgovernance’.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government pulled up the Nagaland government last month for posting non-IAS officers as district collectors/magistrates in six of its 11 districts, which contravenes All India Service rules.

In a letter addressed to Nagaland Chief Secretary Temjen Toy, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said the postings were “in violation of Rule 9 of IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954”.

“Further, it has been observed that there is no shortage of suitable IAS officers,” noted the letter dated 1 June, a copy of which was seen by ThePrint. It listed the names of at least nine IAS officers who are posted to ex-cadre (a temporary post created by the government with the same rank as a regular cadre post) or subordinate posts instead of being appointed as DCs.

Rule 9 of the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954, states: “A cadre post in a state shall not be filled by a person who is not a cadre officer, with certain exceptions.” And according to Rule 9(2), the “exceptions” are intended to be short-term measures and require that the state government shall duly obtain the prior approval of the central government.

The rules go on to state that when cadre officers is available for the post, non-cadre officers must be replaced by them. The DoPT letter urged the Nagaland government to replace the six non-cadre officers with any six of the nine IAS officers available, but there has been no reply from the state government, a source in the state government told ThePrint.

“It is in complete contravention of rules that non-IAS officers are being appointed as DMs in the state when IAS officers are available… It is also the root-cause of several governance problems in the state, since there is complete arbitrariness in who occupies these crucial positions,” said the source.

ThePrint contacted Nagaland Chief Secretary Temjen Toy via phone calls and a text message for a comment, but there was no response.

Also read: Ignore seniors, find favourite IAS officer — the dubious tradition of picking chief secretaries

‘Collapse of law and order’

Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi had, on 16 June, written to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, highlighting misgovernance. “Important law and order decisions like transferring and posting of officials entrusted with maintenance of law and order responsibilities of and above the district level will be after the approval of the governor,” he had proposed.

The governor’s letter, also accessed by ThePrint, added: “In order to instil and ensure accountability, I also prefer to review the Annual Performance Appraisal Reports of all such officers.”

A second source familiar with the development told ThePrint: “One of the main reasons why the governor asked that transfers and postings be done by him is because the government is appointing these non-IAS officers in contravention to rules, and the chief secretary and political executive are all looking the other way… When non-IAS officers are appointed, there is no accountability, and armed gangs have a free-run.”

Governor Ravi had actually gone a step further in his letter, saying: “Day to day unrestrained depredations by over half a dozen organised armed gangs, brazenly running their respective so-called ‘governments’ challenging the legitimacy of the state government without any resistance from the state law and order machinery, has created a crisis of confidence in the system.”

He added: “The state government’s development departments are under duress to give regular ransom to the armed gangs. Steady down-slide in all parameters of development in Nagaland — e.g. road connectivity, health and education infrastructures and livelihood are attributed to siphoning off a large chunk of government funds meant for development.”

In conclusion, the governor said: “The scenario in the state is grim. The law and order has collapsed. The constitutionally established state government is being challenged on a day to day basis by the gangs who question the sovereignty and integrity of the nation while the instruments of law and order remain totally unresponsive.”

The role of the DC or DM

Following the governor’s letter, in an unprecedented move, the state government asked its officials to declare if anyone in their immediate family or relatives is a member of any “underground organisation”.

The second source quoted above said: “DCs/DMs are the lynchpin of administration, whether it be law and order or development schemes… All embezzlement of funds happens with his knowledge and approval, which is why IAS officers are being kept away from these posts.”

He added, “The DC/DM also heads the District level Security Committee, and weak prosecution and punishment for extortion gangs happens because at the level of DM, there is no seriousness to tackle these.”

Incidentally, the BJP, which rules the Centre, is a coalition partner in the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party-led government in Nagaland.

Also read: Nagaland bans sale of dog meat after incidents of pets being ‘shot at sight’ spark outrage


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