Country’s top planning body, the Planning Commission, changed its appointment rule for consultants following a Right To Information application by Hindustan Times to indicate there is no violation of the rules in appointments.
In November 2009, the plan panel’s issued rules for appointment of consultants, senior consultants and young professionals.
And, the eligibility criteria was a doctorate degree and minimum experience of 25 years for senior consultant, minimum experience of 10 years plus a doctorate degree for consultant and masters plus some experience for young professionals.
The commission has 51 persons appointed under these three categories in 2011 as compared to 28 in 2007.
On April 21, this reporter filed a RTI application seeking detailed information about all appointments made in the last three years.
On May 9, the day commission decided to reply to the application, an order was issued scrapping the doctorate degree and relaxing minimum experience required as eligibility for appointment of consultants.
“It is further provided that for bright candidates, the evaluation committee can relax the post qualification experience requirement of up to five years,” said the order signed by under secretary G Rajeev after approval of his seniors.
It meant post facto regularization of some appointees as consultants, who did not possess a doctorate degree and did not have relevant experience at the time of the appointment in November 2010. The advertisement on whose basis they were appointed clearly sought only those with doctorate degree and experience of 10 years to apply.The consultants appointed, other than retired government servants, had a masters degree like 25 other persons appointed as young professionals in the current financial year, the plan panel’s response to the RTI application has revealed.
The documents provided by plan panel also showed that those with a doctorate degree got appointed as young professionals whereas the ones with lower qualification ---- master’s degree or post graduate diploma --- got appointed at a higher level of as consultants.
The Planning Commission in 2007 had started hiring professionals to augment its work and overcome shortage of staff because of ban on new recruitments. The policy was based on the government’s manual of policies and procedure of employment of consultants, which allowed the commission to stipulate its own eligibility criteria.
The panel also said that the consultants are being appointed for a maximum of five years and their work is reviewed every year. “A committee appraises their performance on the basis of inputs provided by the controlling officers and when satisfied their tenure is extended,” the reply said.
A senior consultant gets a salary between Rs 70,000 To Rs 1,00,000 per month and travel allowance of Rs 10,000. Consultants get a salary between Rs 40,000 and Rs 70,000 plus Rs 3,000 per month for local travel.
Young professionals, who are less than 40 years, get between Rs 25,000 to Rs 40,000 per month and travel allowance of Rs 1,500.