11th of June, 2018 should be considered as the darkest day in the constitutional history of India. It is the day when BJP government through the Department of Personnel and Training opened up the doors to the prestigious ‘higher’ civil services of India to the private sector through lateral entry scheme. Central Government through its nation-wide advertisement has call for applications from ‘outstanding’ candidates from private sector to ‘fill-up’ 10 Joint Secretary level posts. The most shocking fact is that this newly developed mechanism has successfully bypassed the Reservation Policy which has been constitutionally mandated and a part of framework of the Indian Constitution. The supporters of this system staunchly advocated that those people who would be hired under this newly built mechanism would be experts in their domains, would have a proven record of competence and most importantly would be free from bureaucratic personality. However, the terms being used by the supporters of new scheme like, ‘expertise’, ‘proven track-record’ and ‘competence’ are highly subjective in nature. Running a company and the nation are two different things. Corporate officers work for profit whereas Government machinery works for the ‘construction’ of nation and the growth of its stakeholders- that is ‘WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA’. This country, so far, has successfully run by the Bureaucracy which has rooted deeply in Indian society. The Imperial Civil Services-Grandpa of present day IAS did not consist of bunch of experts but the generalists. IAS, IPS, IFS, GROUP ‘A’ and GROUP ‘B’ officers have been trained to become professional generalists considering the extremely diverse nature of their job profile in an extremely diverse and complex nation like India. Brits understood this country much better than ‘WE’ the Indians have understood. It is the gift of British Raj that India dearly cherishes in the form of Civil Services- a protective steel-frame that binds the nation together.
To expose such a sensitive element of India’s nationhood to the profiteers would be no less than an open invitation to the Constitutional disaster. Moreover, this would open a side door for the government to appoint its favoured people to important posts would promote nepotism, and as said before, an open high-way to bypass reservation for scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, Other Backward Classes and Physically handicapped candidates.
The attempt to invite experts outside Bureaucracy has been made before. The Congress under the Indira Gandhi government started this in the 1970s, when Yoginder K Alagh, then a Professor of Economics in Ahmedabad, was appointed the head of the Perspective Planning division of the Planning Commission. Other “outsiders” of importance were former Prime Minister Economist Dr. Manmohan Singh, Economist Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who ushered in transformative economy reforms, Sam Pitroda, credited for the telecom revolution in India, and more recently, Nandan Nilekani, the co-founder of Infosys, whom the UPA brought in to head the UIDAI project. However, there is a major difference between the past examples and the present constitutional blunder. The previous attempts were made as extremely rare need based exceptions necessary for the manoeuvre of highly complex tasks. The point to be noted at this juncture is that, neither Dr. Manmohan Singh, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia or Dr. Yonginder K. Alag had any connection with corporate companies nor did they ever work in any professional capacity at any position in the corporate culture. All three people except Mr. Sam Pitroda and Mr. Nilekani were noted, internationally acclaimed Economists having their roots in Academics and Research and also were part of United Nations Bureaucracy at some part of their lives. The case of Sam Pitroda and Nandan Nilekani was totally different. They were merely appointed as Project Experts. Therefore it is not wise to compare BJP’s tactic to sale the nation in the hands of corporate ‘Dronacharyas’ with the appointment of experts that congress made in the past to achieve certain pre-defined administrative objectives.
It is for the first time in Indian history such an advertisement came in the national dailies that openly invited corporate ‘Dronacharyas’ to be a part of the system with all the wisdom that they might have gathered during their 15 years of tenure as a profiteer. Moreover, the advertisement does not have any mention of ‘reservation’ of any kind in recruitment process. The new recruitment scheme is devoid of any written exam; in that case entire weightage would be given to the personal interview which gives us an irrefutable evidence to prove that this new scheme is nothing but a conspiracy to fix backdoor entries of some most favoured people in Indian Bureaucracy to channelize some hidden ideological agendas and/or personal interests.
From legal perspective, the current advertisement and the prospective recruitment under the new scheme would be illegal and ultra-vires of the constitution of India. The Art. 15 (4) of the Constitution which states that, “… Nothing in this article or in clause ( 2 ) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes” has been violated by BJP government by advertising recruitment at Joint secretary level for the high civil services without giving respect to the mandate of the Indian Constitution that provided ‘Reservation’ for the SCs, STs and OBCs in Central and State Government Services. Moreover, government also violated Art. 16 (4) which states, “..Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.” Art. 15 and 16 are the Fundamental Rights, therefore, Government of India should be made accuse of violating them by taking steps arbitrary to the interests of the weakest sections of the Indian society-The Dalits and the Tribals. The biggest constitutional blunder which may land BJP government in serious legal trouble is its choice of ‘originator’ which floated the advertisement in question. The Recruitment notification cum advertisement was floated by Department of Personnel and Training which does not have any constitutional power and legal standing to recruit people in the Central Civil Services. The power to recruit people in Central Civil Services rests with Union Public Service Commission by virtue of Art. 320 which states that, “..It shall be the duty of the Union and the State Public Service Commissions to conduct examinations for appointments to the services of the Union and the services of the State respectively.” Hence, the question arises as to how the Government of India could conduct recruitment by bypassing the UPSC? Therefore, this entire matter should be publicly debated and such unconstitutional practices should be openly condemned.
I personally humbly pray to Hon’ble Supreme Court of India to take Suo-Motu cognizance of this ‘Constitutional Blunder’. Let the arbitrary decision of GOI not become a precedent. Protect the Constitution, Let the Constitution protect us.
Aniruddha Vithal Babar, B.com, D.H.R.L., LLM (International Law and Human Rights), M.A. (Political Science with specialization in International Relations and Conflict Studies), Former Advocate; Bombay High Court and independent researcher with interdisciplinary temperament. He has respectable hold on political and Socio-legal philosophy and thought with research interests include International law, Tribal Jurisprudence (with special emphasis on the development of Naga Jurisprudence), Applied Politics, Idea of justice, Peace & Conflict Studies, Northeast Studies, Subaltern Studies and Human Rights. Presently he is pursuing his PhD in the interdisciplinary fields of Law, Governance and Conflict Management at SSLG, JAIPUR NATIONAL UNIVERSITY. He may be contacted at [email protected])