The central government’s recent move to amend Fundamental Rules (FR) to facilitate extended tenure and in-service benefits to the chiefs of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seem to have opened up a Pandora’s Box.
According to the new rules, the central government can give extension “in the public interest” to the Defence Secretary, Home Secretary, Director of Intelligence Bureau (IB), Secretary of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), and directors of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a case-to-case basis, subject to the condition that the total term of such secretaries or directors, “does not exceed two years or the period provided in the respective Act or rules made thereunder”, according to a Personnel Ministry’s notification.
This move has jolted the entire bureaucracy as the chain of succession will be affected in most of these institutions due to this order.
Many serving officers NDTV spoke to were very unhappy. “There is serious heartburn among many seniors as now, because of this order, at least three to four batches will be eliminated each time,” explains a serving senior bureaucrat.
According to him, the morale of officers will take a hit in these organisations. “For decades, they work in hope to reach the top but now different types of skills would be needed to make it to there,” he adds.
“Institutions are being demolished by the government. Now, no seniority or grades matter. It’s all about which officer can selectively apply the law against whom,” another serving bureaucrat said.
“When we join the service, we take an oath of the Constitution to maintain rule of law, but officers on extension seem to be beholden to the person in command and not the Constitution. They are helping the government to attain their political goals,” a retired officer said.
However, some officers also mentioned the USA as an example, where such appointments are co-terminus with the government in power.
“Although America has a Presidential system and we have a parliamentary one, with this move there would be continuity within institutions,” argues an officer.
This notification excludes the Foreign Secretary from the ambit of FR and includes the ED chief, allowing the incumbent to continue getting service benefits of the extended tenure.
Earlier, the post of Foreign Secretary was included in the FR following a proposal cleared by the Union Cabinet in December 2010 “in view of the assignment of Foreign Secretary having increasingly acquired critical dimensions from the national security and strategic perspective, and the need to ensure continuity and swiftness in the decision-making process”.