Are retired Indian civil servants (IAS, IPS, and IFoS) being muzzled in India?

Are retired Indian civil servants (IAS, IPS, and IFoS) being muzzled in India

The Indian government has instituted new regulations that allow for the termination of pensions for retired officials who previously held senior government positions.

 

In the first week of July, the All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958, were changed to give the Indian government more power to stop or take away the pensions of retired Indian Administrative Service.

 

The stability of these three services’ salaries and retirement benefits makes them competitive in the employment market. It is common practice for members of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS), and the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) to remain stationed in a single state for extended periods of time. (Officers are also often assigned to federal government positions.)

 

In the past, the federal government couldn’t take any action against a retired officer unless the state where that officer had previously served provided a referral. In such a case, it may suspend the officer’s pension payments for as long as it sees fit.

 

After the modification, however, federal authorities may take action against the officer without a referral from the state authorities. Several former officials, who often criticize government actions and policies, have voiced their disapproval of the new regulations.

 

On July 25, 94 retired bureaucrats from the civil rights NGO Constitutional Conduct Group issued a public statement calling on the government to rescind the modification. They said that its ambiguity made it possible to exploit it to put police in fear of losing their pensions if they spoke out publicly against the government.

 

How do the new regulations work?

Some may find it fair that a police officer guilty of a “major offence” has his pension taken away.

 

However, under the new guidelines, the federal government may take away an officer’s pension after providing notice and an opportunity to react, even if the officer has not been formally convicted of wrongdoing. In such instances, the government’s decision will be definitive.

 

Candidates depart the UPSC office on Shahjaha Road in New Delhi, India, on January 7, 2022, after taking the UPSC Exam there. Following a vote by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the UPSC Civil Services Main Exams will proceed as planned. On the seven, eight, nine, fifteen, and January 16, UPSC will administer its CSE Main Examinations. Photographed by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times (reproduced by Getty Images),

 

 

Jobs in the Indian civil service are among the most competitive to get.

In what ways do law enforcement agencies pursue criminals?

The laws are vague about what kinds of offenses might result in pension forfeiture. They note that violations of the Official Secrets Act of 1923, which regulates the safeguarding of classified government secrets, constitute a high level of criminality. And it’s not limited to just those acts, either.

 

Disclosure of official material that might harm India’s public interest or security is grave misconduct.

 

Former employees of the Intelligence Bureau, the Enforcement Directorate, and similar agencies will now have new responsibilities thanks to the change.

 

Without the approval of their organization’s leader, they must not post anything inside their organization’s jurisdiction or release material that might jeopardize India’s security. It will be termed “severe misbehavior” if you do this as well.

 

How do bureaucrats put it?

Several seasoned public servants in retirement have cast doubt on the need and timeliness of this shift. If you’re asking, “Why now? Harsh Mander, a former IAS official, and activist, posed the question, “Why do we still have civil services after 75 years?”

 

He predicted that this would have a chilling effect on federal employees who voiced criticism of the administration.

 

Former Andhra Pradesh special chief secretary and development commissioner PV Ramesh argued that the modification would be acceptable if the states were attempting to shield retired personnel from harm.

 

Former police officer Julio Ribeiro claims the new regulations indicate officers “should not speak out and be pliant.”

 

They want everyone to get in line. He remarked, “They do not want former officials speaking out against them.

 

India; Gurugram, April 22: Police presence at Sector-29 site for Eid-ul-Fitr prayer services near Leisure Valley Park in Gurugram, India, April 22, 2023. With the end of Ramadan comes the joyous celebration of Eid among Muslims all around the globe. Feasts, prayers, and acts of kindness for others are all ways to celebrate this holiday. With these festivities, the holy month of Ramzan came to a close.

 

State assignments for IAS, IPS, and IFS officials

According to the Constitution Conduct Group, “the government has armed itself with unlimited powers to harass and persecute any pensioner whose action is not to its liking, whether it be an article, an interview, participation in a protest march or seminar, or any form of criticism,” meaning that they can target anyone for their opinions.

 

Mr. Ramesh claims this change would “send a message” to current officials to “be cautious as you might be stripped of your pension [after] retirement.”

 

Several officials said that they were unaware of any cases in which a retired bureaucrat had their pension withheld in accordance with the original guidelines. But if the government exploits these changes to withhold pensions, Mr. Ribeiro said, “we may see that shift.”

 

How may the new regulations impact the privileges of government employees?

Retired officials are concerned that this legislation may limit their freedom of expression. Others argue that their competence makes them qualified to voice opinions on affairs of the state.

 

“You have individuals who have been a part of the administration at the highest level and understand its operation,” Mr. Mander added.

 

According to Mr. Ramesh, a pension is a right for services rendered throughout an officer’s term, and the government has no jurisdiction to withhold this pension.

 

It’s true that this is unprecedented, yet the administration has made similar calls before.

 

Officers in the Indian Revenue Services, Customs, and Central Excise Services, and others were subject to new pension regulations in 2021. Some people felt the regulations stifled the free expression of retired bureaucrats, which was another point of contention.

 

In 2008, the Congress-led UPA administration also attempted to introduce a similar change but abandoned the initiative due to bureaucratic resistance, according to the Constitution Conduct Group.

 

 

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