Indian Civil Services should be neutral not adjuncts of governments in power: Former bureaucrats, CCG

Signals given by the prime minister and other high ups of this regime threaten to redact and diminish the Indian civil services from Sardar Vallabhai Patel’s vision says the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG) of former bureaucrats

A systematic attempt is being made to change the character of the civil services, particularly the IAS and the IPS, which, in our constitutional scheme, were uniquely intended to be a protective ring around the Constitution, unaffected by political changes,  having an All India perspective rather than a regional, parochial one and being secure enough to maintain an independent, nonpartisan  outlook, without fear or favour.  It is in this context that former bureaucrats have written an Open Letter to the Indian President, Draupadi Murmu.

“The bedrock of all civil services in any democracy worth the name is their independence, neutrality, non-adherence to any political ideology in the discharge of official duties, the freedom to articulate their views to the political executive and the security of knowing that they would not be subjected to arbitrary actions for adhering to these values.

“These foundational characteristics had been forcefully expressed by Sardar Patel in his address to the Constituent Assembly in October 1947 in the following words:

There is no alternative to this administrative system…The Union will go, you will not have a united India if you do not have a good All India Service which has the independence to speak out its mind, which has the sense of security that you will stand by your work…If you do not follow this course, then do not follow the present Constitution…Remove them and I see nothing but a picture of chaos all over the country.”

“Contrary to the above exhortation, we fear that the government, of which you are the constitutional head, is now attempting to distort this basic framework and historical understanding.  

Further,  measures are being taken that threaten the unique federal design of the IAS and the IPS, which underlies Sardar Patel’s vision of a permanent civil service that would  both bind the country together and enable it to maintain a balance between the interests of the Union and the interests of the States. There are noticeable attempts to pressurise officers to show exclusive loyalty to the Union rather than to the ‘parent’ state cadre to which they are allotted. On occasion, arbitrary departmental actions have been taken against those who refuse to do so. Service Rules are sought to be amended to compel central deputations without the consent of either the officers concerned or their state governments, effectively undermining the authority and control of Chief Ministers over their officers. This has disturbed the federal balance and left civil servants torn between conflicting loyalties, thereby weakening their ability to be impartial.

“In the past governments have permitted lateral recruitment at senior levels and many such officers have distinguished themselves. Lately, however, there has been opacity in the recruitment process at mid-levels and concerns that candidates are being chosen based on their ideological predilections. The consequences of this for the future of an independent civil service requires no comment.  

The CCG has also flagged certain concerning statements by high functionaries.

“The actions and words of some very senior functionaries of the central government increases our concern on the future of the civil service and the consequent danger to democracy in India.

“In this context we would like to mention that the National Security Advisor (NSA), while addressing IPS officers at their passing out function in 2021, had emphasised that they should treat civil society as the “fourth  generation of warfare, that can be subverted, suborned, divided and manipulated to hurt the interests of the nation”.  Such sentiments are antithetical to any democratic dispensation and aim at placing civil society in a position of conflict with the state.

“On the April 21, this year, the Prime Minister addressed a gathering of civil service officers on Civil Services Day. The address was unremarkable and comprised largely of a litany of the achievements of the present government over the past nine years, with a proforma acknowledgement of the contributions of the civil services. What was disturbing was his exhortation to the officers to be firm in dealing with malfeasance of political parties while in power. Though couched neutrally, the intent and objective were unmistakable.”

The bureaucrats have stated that their “concern about the future of the civil services is heightened by the reaction of some civil servants.

“The Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie (LBSNAA) is the foundational training institute for All India Services and Central Services. In a recent op-ed, the Director of the LBSNAA wrote, “The task of defining an Indian ethos for the civil servants began in the 75th year of India’s independence, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address where he spelt out the country’s vision….”. Such unwarranted encomiums to the Prime Minister, by the Director of the premier academy for training future civil servants, are deeply disturbing.”

The group states further that they” apprehend that moves are afoot to redact Sardar Patel’s vision of an independent and apolitical civil service and replace it with apparatchiks and foot soldiers whose loyalty shall be to the ruling party and not to the Constitution of India. “

Who is the CCG?

The CCG is a group of former civil servants of the All India and Central Services who have worked with the Central and State Governments in the course of our careers. Both as individuals and as a group, we believe in impartiality, neutrality and commitment to the Constitution of India. We do not owe allegiance to any political party.

At a time when politics is leaning dangerously towards a centralised, authoritarian, national security state with a leadership  seemingly amenable to abandoning, without demur, the fundamental principles on which our Constitution is based, it has become critical for citizens to ensure that institutions and systems like the civil services which can check this frightening erosion of constitutional values in the manner envisaged by the great Sardar are protected and strengthened. By virtue of their allegiance to the Constitution and not the government of the day, the All India Services, particularly the IAS and IPS, have a critical role to play. As the Constitutional Head of the Republic, we appeal to you to convey our concerns to the Union Government and caution them that this attempt to change the character of the civil services is fraught with extreme danger and, as Sardar Patel had warned many years ago, will spell the death of constitutional government in India.

Constitutional Conduct Group (82 signatories, as below)

1.      Anita AgnihotriIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Department of Social Justice Empowerment, GoI
2.      S.P. AmbroseIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI
3.      Anand ArniRAS (Retd.)Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
4.      Mohinderpal AulakhIPS (Retd.)Former Director General of Police (Jails), Govt. of Punjab
5.      Vappala BalachandranIPS (Retd.)Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
6.      Chandrashekar BalakrishnanIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Coal, GoI
7.      Sushant BaligaEngineering Services (Retd.)Former Additional Director General, Central PWD, GoI
8.      Rana BanerjiRAS (Retd.)Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
9.      T.K. BanerjiIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Union Public Service Commission
10.  Sharad BeharIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
11.  Aurobindo BeheraIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Odisha
12.  K.V. BhagirathIFS (Retd.)Former Secretary General, Indian Ocean Rim Association, Mauritius
13.  Meeran C BorwankarIPS (Retd.)Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, GoI
14.  Ravi BudhirajaIAS (Retd.)Former Chairman, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, GoI
15.  Sundar BurraIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
16.  R. ChandramohanIAS (Retd.)Former Principal Secretary, Transport and Urban Development, Govt. of NCT of Delhi
17.  Kalyani ChaudhuriIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
18.  Gurjit Singh CheemaIAS (Retd.)Former Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Govt. of Punjab
19.  F.T.R. ColasoIPS (Retd.)Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Karnataka & former Director General of Police, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir
20.  Anna DaniIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
21.  Surjit K. DasIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttarakhand
22.  P.R. DasguptaIAS (Retd.)Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, GoI
23.  M.G. DevasahayamIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana
24.  Sushil DubeyIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Sweden
25.  A.S. DulatIPS (Retd.)Former OSD on Kashmir, Prime Minister’s Office, GoI
26.  K.P. FabianIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Italy
27.  Suresh K. GoelIFS (Retd.)Former Director General, Indian Council of Cultural Relations, GoI
28.  H.S. GujralIFoS (Retd.)Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Govt. of Punjab
29.  Meena GuptaIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI
30.  Ravi Vira GuptaIAS (Retd.)Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India
31.  Vinod C. KhannaIFS (Retd.)Former Additional Secretary, MEA, GoI
32.  Ish KumarIPS (Retd.)Former DGP (Vigilance & Enforcement), Govt. of Telangana and former Special Rapporteur, National Human Rights Commission
33.  Sudhir KumarIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Central Administrative Tribunal
34.  Subodh LalIPoS (Resigned)Former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Communications, GoI
35.  Harsh ManderIAS (Retd.)Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
36.  Amitabh MathurIPS (Retd.)Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
37.  L.L. MehrotraIFS (Retd.)Former Special Envoy to the Prime Minister and former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, GoI
38.  Aditi MehtaIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
39.  Sonalini MirchandaniIFS (Resigned)GoI
40.  Noor MohammadIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, Govt. of India
41.  Deb MukharjiIFS (Retd.)Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal
42.  Shiv Shankar MukherjeeIFS (Retd.)Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
43.  NagalsamyIA&AS (Retd.)Former Principal Accountant General, Tamil Nadu & Kerala
44.  Sobha NambisanIAS (Retd.)Former Principal Secretary (Planning), Govt. of Karnataka
45.  Ramesh NarayanaswamiIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of NCT of Delhi
46.  Surendra NathIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Finance Commission, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
47.  P. Joy OommenIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Chhattisgarh
48.  Amitabha PandeIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
49.  Maxwell PereiraIPS (Retd.)Former Joint Commissioner of Police, Delhi
50.  Alok PertiIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Coal, GoI
51.  R. PoornalingamIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, GoI
52.  Rajesh PrasadIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to the Netherlands
53.  R.M. PremkumarIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
54.  T.R. RaghunandanIAS (Retd.)Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI
55.  N.K. RaghupathyIAS (Retd.)Former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, GoI


56.  V.P. RajaIAS (Retd.)Former Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission
57.  P.V. RameshIAS (Retd.)Former Addl. Chief Secretary to the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh
58.  Satwant ReddyIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, GoI
59.  Vijaya Latha ReddyIFS (Retd.)Former Deputy National Security Adviser, GoI
60.  Julio RibeiroIPS (Retd.)Former Adviser to Governor of Punjab & former Ambassador to Romania
61.  Aruna RoyIAS (Resigned) 
62.  A.K. SamantaIPS (Retd.)Former Director General of Police (Intelligence), Govt. of West Bengal
63.  N.C. SaxenaIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI
64.  A. SelvarajIRS (Retd.)Former Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Chennai, GoI
65.  Ardhendu SenIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
66.  Abhijit SenguptaIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI
67.  Aftab SethIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Japan
68.  Ashok Kumar SharmaIFoS (Retd.)Former MD, State Forest Development Corporation, Govt. of Gujarat
69.  Ashok Kumar SharmaIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia
70.  Navrekha SharmaIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Indonesia
71.  Raju SharmaIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
72.  Avay ShuklaIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary (Forests & Technical Education), Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
73.  Sujatha SinghIFS (Retd.)Former Foreign Secretary, GoI
74.  Tirlochan SinghIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, National Commission for Minorities, GoI
75.  A.K. SrivastavaIAS (Retd.)Former Administrative Member, Madhya Pradesh Administrative Tribunal
76.  Parveen TalhaIRS (Retd.)Former Member, Union Public Service Commission
77.  Anup ThakurIAS (Retd.)Former Member, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
78.  P.S.S. ThomasIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission
79.  Geetha ThoopalIRAS (Retd.)Former General Manager, Metro Railway, Kolkata
80.  Jawed UsmaniIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh & former Chief Information Commissioner, Uttar Pradesh
81.  Ramani VenkatesanIAS (Retd.)Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. of Maharashtra
82.  Rudi WarjriIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica



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