The much-envied Indian Administrative Service (IAS) may not be able to retain its edge vis-a-vis the police and forest service any longer. But the battle has divided the pay commission too.
The panel chairman Justice AK Mathur has backed parity between IAS and the two other All India Services, Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Services, a second member, Prof Rathin Roy, wanted to abolish the practice of giving any edge for any civil service while a third member, Vivek Rae — a retired IAS officer — insisted the special treatment for the IAS continues.
Speculation that the panel intended to push for bridging the divide between the IAS and other civil services including the police had already provoked a social media spar even before the report was submitted.
It is a battle that is expected to escalate over the next few weeks, and months, before the government takes a final call.
Government officers said one of the reasons that non-IAS officers had been able to convince the pay commission had a lot to do with the unity between all non-IAS associations which spoke in one voice.
IPS Central Association’s secretary PV Rama Sastry hinted they wouldn’t let anything divide them. “We welcome the recommendations but the IPS association still believes that the organised Group A services and the three All India Services should be treated at par,” Sastry said.
IAS officers have managed to retain an advantage in career progression and compensation over their colleagues from other civil services on grounds that they had not only scored higher rank in the recruitment examination but also had a richer field experience.
As far as holding key positions in the central government is concerned, the majority view at the panel was that any officer with the requisite experience should be eligible to apply for any senior post once he, or she, cleared the initial screening.
Mathur said the main cause for resentment among services is that the IAS had arrogated to itself all power of governance and relegated all other services to secondary position.
“All posts covering majority of domains are today manned by IAS, be it technical or administrative, which is the main cause of grievance. It is time that government take a call that subject domain should be the criteria to man the posts and not a generalist,” he said.
Rae gave a dissent note on this point too, stressing that it was not the pay panel’s job to “suggest changes which dilute this pivotal role”.
“Any review of the foundations of the steel frame must be undertaken by a commission specially constituted for this purpose and cannot be undertaken by a pay commission”.