CBI cadre irked as officers on deputation get seniority
NEWDELHI: A long-standing grievance of officers directly recruited by the Central Bureau of Investigation over being unfairly superseded by those deputed to it from other police departments and organisations has caused a controversy at India’s federal investigation agency.
Both sets of officers are now awaiting a report by the agency’s joint director (policy) AK Sharma on the matter.
The latest chapter of this longstanding grievance has, in recent weeks, seen the transfer of two officers from the New Delhi HQ of the agency, and subsequent cancellation of one of the transfers.
The two officers, additional Superintendent of Police (SP) Surender Kumar Malik and Deputy SP Sunil Dutt, were the representatives of a group of around 20 officers who met the agency’s director Alok Verma in December to raise the issue. The group comprised officers directly recruited by CBI who are below the rank of Additional SP.
These officers have claimed that officers who join the CBI on deputation from other police organisations are often placed ahead of them in terms of seniority, largely because of what they see as an incorrect interpretation of office memorandums and court orders in this regard.
People familiar with the proceedings of the meeting with Verma say the director agreed to look into their concerns and asked Sharma for a report.
“But few days later Malik and Dutt found their names on a list of officials who were to be transferred out of Delhi for the ostensible reason of having spent longer than required in the national capital,” said one of the people who asked not to be identified.
This person added that the officers saw the transfer of Malik and Dutt as direct fallout of their meeting with director Verma.
Intriguingly, the agency issued an order a few days later cancelling the transfer of Dutt, presumably after it realised that he was handling the important case of the Sandesera Group of Gujarat in which a top Congress politician as well senior Income Tax officers were being investigated, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.
This person added that because the case was already on the radar of both the judiciary and the media — a public interest litigation raising questions on the promotion of the agency’s then additional director Rakesh Asthana to the post of special director alleged that his name figured in the probe; the Supreme Court found no merit in the claim and dismissed the case— the CBI may have decided to rescind its original transfer order.
“Malik didn’t turn out so lucky,” this person said.
The CBI did not deny the issuance of a transfer order but refused to formally offer any comment for the story.
When it comes, Sharma’s report will likely affect the seniority of around half the agency’s Deputy SPS and inspectors, the officers who handle investigations on ground.
“We believe that deputation rules are being interpreted in the CBI in such a manner that gives unfair seniority advantage to officials who join the agency on deputation. There have been many instances when directly recruited officials have found themselves below in seniority list in comparison to those who joined the agency on deputation from other organisations, despite being joining service much earlier than them. We just want to be treated fairly,” said a directly recruited officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Former CBI officer NR Wasan, who retired as chief of Bureau of Police Research and Development, says the need of the hour is to make seniority rules transparent. “A proposal was mooted in 1998 to hold a limited departmental competitive exam to fast track promotion of meritorious officers. Besides, officers from paramilitary forces should be taken on deputation only in exceptional cases and those from state police should be preferred,” said Wasan.
The proposal to hold departmental exam was implemented last year, almost 19 years after it was mooted. According to CBI’S recruitment rules, the agency fills 20 % of the vacancies for additional SP and 50% for deputy SP and Inspector in its ranks by way of deputation.
Former CBI officials say that the need of the hour is to make seniority rules transparent.