With rules and politics tying up its hands, the government has set out to tweak the rules for All India Service (AIS) officers but the changes will not help protect Durga Shakti Nagpal or others like her.
Minister of State for Personnel, V Narayanasamy said the department was planning to reduce the timeframe to file the chargesheet against a suspended officer from 45 days to 15.
The minister said there was a view that 45 days was too long a time for the officer to wait. “This may be cut down to 15 days so as to give the officer a quick remedy," Narayanasamy told reporters.
But government sources said a change in the AIS rules wasn’t an easy task and would take at least three months if the Centre does not develop cold feet.
“Three months too is a very ambitious target,” an officer said, recalling how the rule to introduce mid-career screening of officers had taken two years of focussed discussions.
Narayanasamy said the department of personnel and training would have to consult state governments on the proposed changes in All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969.
"Though the consent of the states is not mandatory, the process of consultations with the states has to be followed," the minister said.
A senior government official, however, advised against any knee-jerk reactions to the Nagpal episode, pointing that it was as important to protect honest officers as it was punish the corrupt.
“It would be inadvisable to make changes that would let delinquent officers get away under the provision. Remember that for every Durga, there are 10 others who are corrupt,” the official said.
Besides, it will not help officers such as the 2010 batch IAS officer. She was issued a charge-sheet within 8 days of her suspension. “So how does this change in rule help,” a senior official asked.
Officials suggested the government turning to the change in rules could be targeted at assuaging the feeling that the Centre should proactively help Nagpal stand in face of the Samajwadi Party government’s onslaught.