In bureaucracy, a silent battle now over CS post

With J&K’s Chief Secretary Iqbal Khanday opting for voluntary retirement on Monday, senior bureaucrats have begun voicing their opposition against the government’s proposed move to elevate Principal Secretary (Planning), B R Sharma, to the coveted post.
In bureaucracy, a silent battle now over CS post
Representational Picture

With J&K's Chief Secretary Iqbal Khanday opting for voluntary retirement on Monday, senior bureaucrats have begun voicing their opposition against the government's proposed move to elevate Principal Secretary (Planning), B R Sharma, to the coveted post.

Sources said the Government had already "made its mind" to replace Khanday with Sharma after the incumbent's retirement this November.

That Sharma attended the last two cabinet meetings as Cabinet Secretary in place of Khanday is an indication enough about the Government's intentions, the sources said.

Though the Government is yet to formally take a call on Khanday's request and his replacement, a group of IAS officers senior to Sharma have silently started opposing his elevation, citing "violation of services rules." 

Sharma is junior to 1979-batch IAS officer Arun Kumar who is Financial Commissioner Revenue. Next in the seniority list, according to sources, is Kumar's wife Sonali Kumar who is heading State's Special Tribunal, followed by A K Angurana (Secretary in Union Government) and Khursheed Ganai, a 1982-batch IAS officer, who is Financial Commissioner Industries and Commerce Department.

While Sonali and Ganai are retiring later this year, Arun Kumar has more than one year service left. 

"You won't find anywhere a senior working under his junior. This is unacceptable as per the service rules," said an aggrieved bureaucrat, who has remained in news in the recent past.

"We won't be left with any choice but to take a call and opt for voluntary retirement if he (Sharma) is promoted to the CS level," the bureaucrat said.

A 1984-batch IAS officer, Sharma is junior to all the four bureaucrats.

Asked whether there was any communication between the senior IAS officials on the issue, the bureaucrat responded: "That is why I am speaking. It concerns us all."

However, sources said, Arun Kumar is holding charge of an "independent post" which is an appellate authority under Land Revenue and Acquisition Act  and his wife Sonali  is also "functioning as an independent authority." Angurana, they said, is presently on central deputation.

"This is where the government might not find it an issue while deciding on elevating Sharma ahead of them given the positions they hold," the sources said.

But, they said, the issue for the Government would be "bypassing" Khursheed Ganai who is senior to Sharma.

"In that case there are options for him (Ganai). The Government can seek his consent as has been a precedent, or, he may opt for leave or seek voluntary retirement as a mark of protest," the sources said.

"Normally it doesn't augur well to ignore senior bureaucrats and promoting a junior. It sends a bad signal," the sources said.

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