West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the second time in a week expressing her ‘strong’ reservations to the Centre’s proposal to amend the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954.
The Trinamool Congress chief urged the Prime Minister to roll back the decision, claiming that the change in rules for central deputation of IAS officers will affect the states’ administration.
“I had written to you on this, conveying my strong reservations and objections to the Centre’s draft amendment of the IAS (Cadre) Rules on January 13, 2022, but I have to write again, further reiterating my points, because the Central government has meanwhile further accentuated its stand, proposing yet another revised draft, taking the matter to further non-federal extremes,” the Chief Minister said in her letter to the Prime Minister, the second in seven days.
“I find the revised amendment proposal more draconian than the former, and indeed its very grain is against the foundations of our great federal polity and the basic structure of India’s Constitutional scheme. The moot point of the further revised draft amendment proposal is that an officer, whom the Central government may choose to take out of a state to any part of the country without taking his/her consent and without the agreement of the state government under whom he or she is serving, may now stand released from his/her current assignment forthwith,” Banerjee said.
“The power proposed to be usurped by the Central government by resorting to over-centralisation of powers is going to destroy the morale and freedom of the All-India Service officers. It is going to completely render them and all the state governments at the mercy of the Central government since the All-India Services serve as the backbone of a state’s administrative machinery. It will hang on the head of each officer of the All-India Services like a Damocles’ sword.
“It will create fear psychosis which is bound to impact their performance, effectiveness and accountability to the state government. This will destroy the fundamental principle of the Services, which postulates that an officer serving in connection with the affairs of the state is accountable to the state government alone,” the Chief Minister added.
Requesting the Prime Minister not to take any step that will irreparably damage the spirit of mutual accommodation between the Centre and the states, Banerjee said, “This is going to destroy the federal fabric and basic structure of our Constitution too. It is our Constitution which gives the states their powers and functions, and it is our Constitution which provides the framework and structure of the All-India Services as they exist. The swift unitary turn that the Central government has now proposed will strike at the root of the frame which has existed and worked well since the inception of our democracy.”
Expressing her concern that the all-pervasiveness of the Central government over the All-India Service officers will leave the states ‘at the mercy of the Centre’, the Chief Minister warned the Prime Minister that this kind of a move will surely be misused by the party in power at the Centre.
Banerjee also said that this would ‘nullify India’s Constitutional scheme in letter and spirit’.
Asking the Centre to reconsider its decision, else threatening to go for a greater movement, the Chief Minister said, “I would like to think that no government would like to be seen as implementing this change which reduces the so called ‘steel frame’ of India to an entity functioning in perpetual fear, pressure or intimidation, causing instability and uncertainty in administration and development process. Governments and political parties come and go, but to weaken this ‘steel frame’ so immeasurably not bode well for us in the 75th year of our Republic.”
“Every government, state or Central, depends on the proper, efficient, objective and fearless functioning of the bureaucracy and the proposed change would irreparably deliver a body blow in the solar plexus of this steel frame. Its adverse consequences would be endemic, permanent and irreversible. I beseech you to kindly withdraw the proposed amendments which will not only harm the country but will also lead to demolition of our democracy,” Banerjee concluded.