Setting the ball rolling to meet the Supreme Court’s deadline for carrying out civil service reforms, the government this week begin discussions to set up multiple civil service boards to decide postings and transfers of civil servants at the Centre.
The Centre already has a civil services board (CSB) headed by Cabinet Secretary AK Seth but this mechanism only covers postings in central departments and ministries.
This board suggests a panel of three names for selection against each vacancy in a central ministry at the level of deputy secretary and above. The ministry concerned is free to select any one of the three candidates.
The government had so far used the existence of this CSB to oppose any judicial intervention.
The Supreme Court, however, didn’t buy the Centre’s argument.
On 31 October, the court gave central and state governments three months to put a CSB in place to cover all officers, give them a fixed tenure and require civil servants to record every verbal instruction received by them.
Government sources said there were over three dozen central services — such as Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and the Indian Information Service (IIS) — that come under different cadre controlling authorities.
For instance, the information and broadcasting ministry controls the IIS while the Central Board of Direct Taxes and Central Board of Indirect Taxes control the IRS (Income Tax) and IRS (Customs and Excise) officers.
So far, these cadre controlling authorities were empowered to decide postings and transfers of each service. The only safeguard against misuse was that these decisions would have to be in line with broad policies set by the department of personnel and training (DoPT).
Sources said DoPT Secretary AK Sarkar was expected to convene a meeting of cadre controlling authorities next week to set the ball rolling.
“We need to decide if each service should have a separate CSB or one board can serve more than one service,” a government official said.
Former home secretary RK Singh, however, believes that bodies such as the CSB would succeed to insulate the bureaucracy only if officers who head them are appointed with bipartisan support.