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IAS cadre edgy as state seeks their recall from Central deputation
Facing an acute shortage of civil servants, the Nitish Kumar government has asked the Centre to repatriate Bihar cadre IAS officers. Bihar chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh has sent a list of 14 secretary-rank officers, who are on deputation to the Union government, to be sent back to the state.
“Bihar has a sanctioned strength of 342 IAS officers. But the shortage of officers has forced the state government to assign more than one department to several IAS officers,” says a Bihar General Administration Department officer.
The state has only 251 IAS officers serving at present. Forty-two of them are on central and five on inter-state deputation. Effectively, the state is left with 215 serving IAS officers, including officers from other state cadres serving assignments in Bihar. Of the 27 officers of principal secretary rank, 16 are holding additional charge of
other departments. The Bihar government has approached the Centre to repatriate officers at a time the civil servants are reportedly not enthused about a Bihar posting. Besides multiple power centres in the JD(U)-RJDCongress coalition in power, officers say reports of police aggression against civil servants is a big concern.
Three senior IAS officers in the state have been booked on corruption charges. While 1987 batch officer Sudhir Kumar is already in jail, 1991 batch officer C.K. Anil, who is posted with the state Staff Selection Commission, has proceeded on leave, apparently to evade police action. Another 1991 batch IAS officer, S.M. Raju, has secured a judicial reprieve against his possible arrest in a scholarship scam.
Earlier, the state government had served showcause notices to two dozen IAS officers after they held a demonstration outside Raj Bhavan in Patna against Sudhir Kumar’s February arrest. The notice asked officers to clarify if they had taken permission from their respective divisional commissioners to participate in the demonstration.
A general sense of insecurity prevails in Bihar’s civil bureaucracy since July 2016 when the police arrested 2013 batch IAS officer Jitendra Gupta on charges of bribery.
Considered an honest officer, who had pulled the plug on the police-transporter nexus, Gupta was detained after police showed the recovery of Rs 80,000 from his driver. The Patna High Court quashed the charges last October. In May this year, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to consider releasing Gupta from the Bihar cadre.
A senior IAS officer claims officers on central deputation are unwilling to return to Bihar in the current environment. But that may no longer be a choice if the Centre accedes to the Nitish Kumar government’s demand for their repatriation.
HOME FRONT Nitish Kumar with Anjani Kumar Singh in 2015