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Former, not ex: How retd babus never retire

Author: Shyamlal Yadav
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: July 9, 2012
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/former-not-ex-how-retd-babus-never-retire/971961/0

It may have started as a rare measure to utilise the talent or domain expertise of a veteran bureaucrat after his or her official tenure. But what began as an exception to the norm seems to have morphed into almost a new cadre — that of officers as lifetime civil servants.

The range of sinecures available to them include some they may have coveted or worked towards while in service, while others they get as rewards for their service to the establishment. Some among them hop from one post-retirement pasture to another until age runs out on them or there is a change in the party or alliance in power.

Information accessed by The Indian Express, including through the RTI Act, shows a disproportionately large number of retired IAS and IPS officers, and to a smaller extent those retired from services such as revenue, foreign, postal and audits and accounts, appointed to government and quasi-government bodies.

Details of nearly 90 such appointments made in recent years show these civil servants being parked as governors, information commissioners, and as heads or members of a slew of bodies such as the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Central Information Commission, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). Most of these posts enjoy the rank of secretary to the government of India or above. In case of some officers, new positions have been created to accommodate them.

Such as T K A Nair, who had a long stint in the Prime Minister’s Office as principal secretary to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The retired, 1963-batch Punjab-cadre IAS officer was named as Adviser in the PMO, a post which did not exist. He has the rank and status of a minister of state and holds office until further orders. On the other side of the high walls that separate the PMO and Rashtrapati Bhavan, Christy Fernandez, secretary to outgoing president Pratibha Patil, is a retired 1973-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer.

IAS and IPS officers seem to be in high demand for the job of governors. Of the 27 governors and three lieutenant governors in the country, seven are former IPS officers and four former IAS officers. The IAS-officers-turned-governors include N N Vohra (Jammu and Kashmir), who retired in 1994; Balmiki Prasad Singh (Sikkim), who retired in 2002; and Shekhar Dutta (Chhattisgarh), who retired in 2009. Tejinder Khanna, who retired in 1996, is the lieutenant governor of Delhi.

Their IPS counterparts include M K Narayanan (West Bengal), who retired way back in 1992 and was also national security adviser; B L Joshi (Uttar Pradesh), who quit the IPS to join an NGO in 1991; and Gurbachan Jagat (Manipur), a Punjab-cadre officer who served as chief of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the Border Security Force before retiring in 2002.

Before being appointed governor, Jagat was also the chairman of the UPSC. Joshi, considered close to the Nehru-Gandhi family, was the lieutenant governor of Delhi and the governor of Uttarakhand before being moved to the more crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.

In fact, seven of the UPSC’s nine members are former bureaucrats. They include former UP chief secretary P K Mishra, former defence secretary Vijay Singh, former Department of Personnel and Training secretary Alka Sirohi and former Haryana-cadre IAS officer Rajni Razdan. The other three are a former IFS officer, an ex-IPS officer and an ex-postal service officer.

The move to make the government transparent through the Right To Information Act has also opened up new avenues for these retired bureaucrats, as chief information commissioners and information commissioners at the Centre and states. The RTI Act says, “The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.”

Seven of the nine members of the CIC, including its chief, are former bureaucrats, in what seems an unusual stress on the “administration and governance” criterion of the selection. In fact, of the 29 chief information commissioners in the country, including the one at the Centre, 22 are former IAS officers. And of the 54 information commissioners, 29 are former civil servants, including 16 with an IAS background.

Former bureaucrats have made their way into even bodies such as the NCM, which traditionally had representatives from a cross section of communities. The commission is now headed by Wajahat Habibullah, a former IAS officer who was also the country’s first chief information commissioner. Its vice-chairman H T Sangliana is a well-known IPS officer from Karnataka who went on to contest elections after his retirement and represented the BJP in the Lok Sabha. One of the three members of the commission is K N Daruwala, a retired 1958-batch IPS officer.

Similarly, the heads of the SC and ST commissions, P L Punia and Rameshwar Oraon, had served as IAS and IPS officers respectively, before joining politics. The NHRC has as its members former IFS officer Satyabrata Pal and former IPS officer P C Sharma. A former CBI director, Sharma is serving his second term in the NHRC.

CAT has traditionally been populated by former IAS officers and of the six Member (Administrative) posts in Delhi, four are occupied by them. CAT has 17 benches across the country, including its principal bench in Delhi, and of the 34 Members (Administrative), 25 retired from the IAS.

Of the 28 members at the National Manufacturing Competitive Council, which includes serving bureaucrats as well, is Ajay Shankar, who retired from the IAS in 2009 and happens to be the husband of former Indian ambassador to the US Meera Shankar. Similarly, two of the nine members of the National Disaster Management Authority, which is headed by the prime minister, are former IAS officers: former food secretary T Nand Kumar and former home secretary V K Duggal.

The chairman of the Competition Commission of India, Ashok Chawla, and three of the six other members are former IAS officers. While the chairman is paid a consolidated salary of Rs 3.75 lakh a month, the members get Rs 3.12 lakh. Again, five of the eight members of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission are retired IAS officers.

Retired IAS officer Sanjeev Mishra has been appointed to the Finance Commission while the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has Pramod Deo and M Deena Dayalam. Another retired IAS officer, J Hariharan, has been appointed to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority. And last month, the National Highways Authority of India got a chairman after remaining without a full-time head for 17 months: Rajinder Pal Singh, a retired, Madhya Pradesh-cadre IAS officer.
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