Ashish Joshi, an officer from their own service (IP&TAFS), alleges disconnect from ground realities and addresses complaints to ministry and PMO.
New Delhi: Officers of the Indian Posts and Telecom Accounts and Finance Service (IP&TAFS) are misusing transfer provisions set by the Department of Telecommunications to remain stationed in Delhi-NCR for several years, rather than serving in the field.
This allegation has been made by Ashish Joshi, the controller of communication accounts, Uttarakhand, in a tweet addressed to the Prime Minister’s Office. Joshi himself is a 1992 batch IP&TAFS officer.
Two years ago, Joshi had gained prominence as the whistleblower who led to the arrest of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s principal secretary and fellow civil servant Rajendra Kumar.
In his tweet to the PMO, Joshi has attached a list of the names of officers overstaying in Delhi-NCR, and also cited the circular issued by the Central Vigilance Commission which states that officials in ‘sensitive’ posts should be rotated every two or three years to avoid developing vested interests.
None of the officials named by Joshi were available for comment.
The transfer system in place
An official memorandum issued by the DoT states that the station tenure for IP&TAFS group ‘A’ officers is a maximum of nine years in the-Delhi NCR region.
For the Northeastern states, Andaman and Nicobar and Jammu & Kashmir, the station tenure is two years, while for all other stations in the country, the tenure is six years.
The memorandum also mentions that after the completion of nine years in the capital, “the officer will be eligible for posting at the previous place only after completing the station tenure at the new place of posting”.
However, this particular provision allows officers to stay in Delhi NCR for several years —senior administrative grade officers work for nine years in the capital, serve for two to three years at other stations, and come back to Delhi for another nine years.
A former director of wireless planning and finance in the DoT headquarters confirmed this to ThePrint. “Several officers in the DoT, right from the top, are misusing the transfer provisions. Once they get inside the offices, they don’t want to get out of them,” said the former director on the condition of anonymity.
Disconnect from ground realities
In a letter by Joshi to the DoT secretary, dated 22 February, 2017, he pointed out the issue of some deputy director generals not having served in field offices, which has had a negative impact on field operations.
“It is pertinent to point out that most of the DDGs in DoT HQ have not served in telecom field offices, which is adversely affecting field offices due to lack of operational knowledge, unawareness of ground realities,” Joshi wrote.
A former deputy director general (DDG) in the DoT headquarters, who did not wish to be quoted, said this was true.
“People with zero fieldwork experience are sitting on the top posts, as a result of which the entire government machinery is not able to function properly. How will India become ‘Digital India’ if officers in the DoT are not aware of the ground realities?” he said.
Going against PM Modi’s vision
Joshi told ThePrint that the way the DoT officers were functioning went against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stated intent to make government more transparent and accountable.
“The Prime Minister has insisted on transparency and quick decision-making. The government should not work in silos,” he said.
He also said despite writing several letters to the concerned authorities about the misuse of transfer provisions, he had not received a single reply.
ThePrint tried to contact union communications minister Manoj Sinha and senior ministry officials through repeated calls and emails. But there was no response.