Prasanna Mishra

There has been a lot of discussion on the desirability or otherwise of the Central Government’s move to amend the existing rule on deputation of IAS officers from the states to the Centre. Considering the fact that out of the 17 state governments who have conveyed their views on the subject, many of which have expressed their objection to the move, it may perhaps be relevant to place a few facts in proper perspective to bring clarity to the issues which the Government of India is proposing to address.

In the Constitution of India, All India Services (AIS) is a subject in the Union list. This implies that the Union Government alone is competent to legislate on matters relating to AIS. Article 312 of the Constitution provided for creation of AIS. This Article states that if Rajya Sabha declares by a resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the Members present and voting that it is necessary or expedient in national interest to do so, Parliament may make a law to create one or more AIS common to the Union and the States and shall regulate recruitment and conditions of service of the members of such service. Both IAS and IPS are deemed to be Services created by Parliament under this Article of the Constitution of India. A few important issues need to be flagged here.

As per the Constitution, the three AIS now existing, namely the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Forest Service (IFS), are necessary in the national interest. The AIS are common to the Union and the States and it is the Parliament that shall regulate recruitment and conditions of service of the Members of these AIS.

Members are appointed to the respective Service by the Union Government on recommendation of the UPSC and are allotted to different state cadres. Centre does not have a ‘cadre’ of its own but borrows the services of an officer for specific period from the states who meet the requirement from the Central Deputation Reserve (CDR). How many officers are to be in the CDR is fixed for each state by the Central Government while determining the authorised cadre strength of each cadre.

Number of officers being sent to the Centre has been decreasing and surely has reached a stage where the Centre has reasons to feel concerned. In the present scheme of things, the states seem to be in possession of the decisive power. The present situation, consequently, has starved the Centre of adequate number of IAS officers; it has also enabled many IAS officers avoid central deputation. There are instances where officers have never been out of the state. This is surely contrary to the very rationale of AIS. By not going to the Centre, many officers have been missing valuable experience of working in different Ministries of Government of India and making use of such experience in the state on completion of deputation.

The Constitution and the Central Act both speak of AIS common to the Centre and the state; but there is anxiety to keep the AIS officers confined to state only. This is against the Constitutional arrangement. Some have viewed the move of the Centre as infringement of cooperative federalism. Rather preventing an IAS officer from going to the Centre is in violation of the principle of federalism. 

The proposed changes would enable the Centre to avail adequate number of officers and even pick up specific officers for the Centre in special situations. The apprehension that the states would lose officers thereby causing disruption in many critical areas seems to be overstated.

AIS needs reforms. The recent decision of Government of India to make all IAS officers work in central secretariat as assistant secretary post training has been a great move to make freshly recruited IAS officers conversant with the working of the Government of India. The recent move on deputation similarly would make the IAS officers more familiar with the working of the Central Government. It would lead to better cadre management in the states where many anomalies have crept in. There is even a case where an officer became the Chief Secretary in a state without ever working as a Collector in a District.

THE ALL-INDIA SERVICES ACT, 1951 is an Act to regulate the recruitment, and the conditions of service of persons appointed, to the All-India Services common to the Union and the States. As per Section 3 of the Act, the Central Government, after consultation with the Governments of the States concerned, formulates rules for the regulation of recruitment, and the conditions of service of persons appointed to an All India Service. Every rule made by the Central Government under this section and every regulation made under or in pursuance of any such rule, is laid before each House of Parliament for a total period of thirty days. Parliament may make modifications. The law therefore provides for consultation with states; does not require their consent. 

What is being proposed by the Centre moving for amendment of the deputation rules is to preserve and protect the quintessence of the IAS and prevent it from becoming a state service. Officers should welcome it rather than worry about it.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. The author can be reached at

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