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We’re domain experts too, but ignored for IAS officers in top posts: IRS body writes to PM

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IRS officers say we have experience of revenue and govt. Same holds true for railway, forest officers. Yet these ministries are headed by IAS.

New Delhi: While the Narendra Modi government is considering allowing private sector talent a lateral entry into the higher bureaucracy, IRS officers have written to the prime minister, saying there is “merit and competence”  in other central services, and not just in the Indian Administrative Services (IAS).

In a sharply-worded letter to the prime minister, the Indian Revenue Services (IRS) Association has alleged a “bias” in favour of IAS officers in matters of empanelment and selection to the secretary, additional secretary and joint secretary positions.

“Currently, no officer from the IRS is at the secretary-level and even at the additional secretary-level. The systematic discrimination has led to a negligible number of officers from our service having an opportunity to work at that level,” reads the eight-page letter dated 22 June 2018.

It adds that at the level of the secretary, additional secretary and joint secretary in the government, appointments are made based on “affiliation to the IAS”, ignoring the “merit and competence of other services”.

Of the 81 secretary-level officers in the central government, 57 belong to the IAS, and only 24 comprise those from other services and lateral entries.

A senior IRS officer who did not want to be named told ThePrint that with the Centre looking for outside talent, the association thought it was an opportune moment to “highlight the talent” within the government.

“The reason being given for lateral entries is that it will help get candidates with domain knowledge,” the officer said. “By that logic, an IRS officer is a domain expert, who has experience of both revenue and government…The same is true for railway, postal, forest officers. Yet, all these ministries are headed by IAS officers.”

There is also a perception among officers that the government is “in the mood for reform”, said an Indian Forest Service (IFoS) officer, who also did not wish to be named.

“This is their last year, and they are also talking about lateral entries, so this was a good time,” the officer said, adding that associations of other services too are contemplating expressing their grievances.

A ‘humiliating’ policy

The IRS association has called the “differential policy of empanelment” for IAS officers and other central service officers “humiliating.” It has now requested the PM to remove the “arbitrary and discriminatory system of empanelment and selection of officers at higher levels in the government”.

Its letter alleges that the Central Staffing Scheme (CSS), which is responsible for allocating central government posts to eligible officers from various services, tweaked the rules for appointment to the posts of secretary and additional secretary.

According to the IRS letter, officers from all 37 services were eligible for the secretary and additional secretary posts but in 2001, the eligibility criterion was tweaked by bringing a differential of two years between IAS officers and those from other central services.

The senior IRS officer said that this effectively meant that officers of central services such as the revenue, forest and postal services, are equated to IAS officers who are two batches junior to them.

“What is also degrading is that we are considered two years junior to IAS officers of the same batch, who have entered the system through the same exam,” the officer added.

While IAS officers require 32 years of experience in service to be eligible for secretary-level positions in the central government, their counterparts require over 34-35 years of experience, before which most officers retire, the letter states.

“We have been practically eliminated through these arbitrary rules,” the IRS officer said. “There is such a strong IAS lobby in the government that they have ensured they block all other services.”

The IRS letter also quotes the chairman of Seventh Central Pay Commission, Justice A.K. Mathur, who had observed that “over a period of time IAS has arrogated to itself all power of governance and relegated all other services to a secondary position.”

“If fair and equitable treatment is not given to all services, then the gap between IAS and other services will widen and it may lead to a chaotic situation and it will not be good for the governance and country,” Mathur is quoted as having said.

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  1. The IRS are jokers only if we compare them with play card. They are not even involved in scruitiny of returns. How can they be treated as specialists in revenue matter? 90 percent of IRS do not have knowledge of rules and regulations of the act so they try to overcome this inability by bossism. Very few IRS are liked by staff as they are very bad administrator.

  2. All the Civil services should be designated as ICS ( indian Civil Service) or IAS ( Indian Administrative Service) and cader, department and post to be alloted on their choice and rank obtained in UPSC and foundation course exam ( to be conducted by UPSC ) , IAAS, IFS, IRTS,IRAS, IPoS, ICAS, etc are not appropriate for officers who passed same exam.

  3. Absolutely true Honble PM should give chance to other service officers before thinking of lateral entry based on non performance of a particular service.
    The governance is just not IAS as these officers who rule and tweak rules in their favour has made out to be. When an IRS OR IPos OR IFS can work as DS Director then why not JS AS AND SECY. They all took same exam in fact other services are better suited for speacialized posts in ministries where important policy decisions are made.
    Had some inputs been taken from Revenue services while brining in GST maybe the chaos would have been less.

  4. Administration is not a rocket science. When all the services mess up Army is called in to clean up the septic tank.
    Officers especially from Infantry is the pedigree required to run this country and realize the dream of a real Bharat.
    Have officers induct abinitio and empower them from the wolves throwing the country to dogs.
    Army officers also hold a higher position in the Constitution but are relegated to backyard as an element of inertia of Nehru era. Modiji will be pulling the right rope for his countrymen if this earthing wire is used as live wire. Does this government has the ability to pull off this reform?

  5. IRS Officers talking of IAS officers blocking their empanelment and their promotion! What do these people do in revenue department to their subordinates? They ensure that the subordinates retire before promotion to Gr. A and in case any person is really lucky to be promoted as Great. A officer they humiliate them.

  6. Very true. Everyone is opposing lateral entry and why only our PM sir is not understanding the nerve of the nation.

  7. Only the creme of those who pass the civil services exam became IAS so there is nothing wrong in discriminating the IRS in comparison with the IAS. They are not equals in the first place, if at all if some service can be considered as equal to IAS it is the Indian Foreign Service. So all those back benchers who just scraped through the Civil services exam should just keep a lot of holes in their body shut.

  8. The Indian Forest Service is an All India Service. It has been incorrectly mentioned as a Central Service in the article. Kindly note.

  9. The Indian Forest Service is an All India Service and not a Central Service as has been mentioned in the above article. Kindly note.

  10. Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist,Barnala(Punjab)
    Ironical indeed !
    How smart and well meaning the Indian Polity now appears and poses to be ?
    Now in the election year, the polity will either rush through decisions recklessly
    or just try to look smart and fast decision maker ! Where is the time now to think
    or apply mind over or debate these issues of vital national importance pertaining
    to introduction of central services recruitment reforms ?

    How fine it would have been, had the honourable PM spared some of his
    “valuable time” in the past couple of years slicing the vast number of election rallies
    he addressed for BJP at least for holding parleys over these matters seriously weighing
    the pros and cons of the reform decisions thought of in the perspective ?

    Very amazingly, the Union Law Ministry and the Apex Court has not been able
    to finalise the Memorandum of Procedure for almost more than two years !
    How can improving of relations with neighbouring countries and living in an
    atmosphere of peace, cooperation and coordination anywhere be fancied?

    Prof PK Sharma,Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala(Punjab)

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