The army’s integrated headquarters has upstaged an initiative cleared by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to let major and captain-ranked officers appear for a special examination and join the Indian Police Service (IPS).
An internal communication accessed by HT revealed that the Army has debarred most officers who meet UPSC norms from taking the exam. It has allowed only permanent commission officers, who have been declared unfit for promotion or retention, to apply for the test.
A similarly restrictive policy has been stipulated for short service commission officers, allowing only officers unfit to be absorbed into the army due to medical or disciplinary reasons, on extension, or in the last six months of their service, to take the test.
The Union Public Service Commission had notified the examination earlier this month, giving aspirants three weeks to apply. The army order was issued by the military secretary’s branch on March 15.
Last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had approved the ground rules for the limited competitive examination to recruit IPS officers from officers aged less than 35, serving in the armed forces as well as the Central and state police forces. Post-26/11, home minister P Chidambaram had come up with the idea to plug the shortage of police officers.
A home ministry official said that an earlier objection by the army, contending that they were also facing a shortage of officers, was overruled. “They have a much larger pool of officers. Even if 20-30 of them quit in a year, it won’t make a difference,” he explained.
IPS aspirants in the army are a disgruntled lot.
“Where is the sanctity of a government order if a simple army instruction can reverse it?” another officer asked.
Army sources said though it does not want to discourage personnel from pursuing an alternative career, the primary commitment of permanent commissioned officers is to the armed forces.