They pulled strings, feigned illness or offered to work in the central government to avoid the stint in the Northeast or the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. But excuses may not work for them anymore.
The home ministry is tightening transfer rules for Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service officers of the AGMU cadre to force members of the two elite services to serve their mandatory tenures in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and the union territories of Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands and Lakshadweep.
And the first to get their transfer orders would be IAS & IPS officers who have spent a larger part of their career in Delhi and have the least tenure in hard areas.
As soon as Home Minister P Chidambaram signs the new policy, government officials said the list of officers of AGMU cadre would be prepared that would form the basis of transfers according to the new rule.
AGMU is an abbreviation for the member states of the cadre — Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories of A&N Islands, Delhi, Chandigarh, Puducherry, Lakshadweep and Daman & Diu & Dadra and Nagar Haveli — that share the same pool of IAS and IPS officers.
But, officers have always been reluctant to serve in Arunachal, Mizoram, Lakshadweep or the Andaman & Nicobar Islands — many of them employ every trick in the book to avoid or delay taking up the difficult assignments — leading to a shortfall of officers in these regions.
But the new home ministry guidelines that will come into force shortly might be able to plug every known loophole.
For one, the ministry has worked out the number of years that IAS and IPS officers have to spend in each of the three categories that the member states and UTs have been classified into, depending on the difficulty in serving in these places.
This calculation — that takes into account the recent expansion of posts — suggests that IAS officers entitled to hold senior time scale posts would serve only six years in Delhi and five years in hard areas such as Arunachal and Mizoram.
The remaining three of the 14 years that they would serve in this scale could be in category B territories such as Goa, Chandigarh and Puducherry.
Similarly, the home ministry has worked out tenures for senior IAS and IPS officers. To ensure it gets difficult to pull strings, the new norms require transfer orders at the level of chief secretary or head of the police force to be decided at the home minister’s level. Other assignments would be decided at the home secretary level.