Ingenious are the ways of the bureaucracy all over the globe. It keeps itself busy with minders, reminders and rejoinders.
So the Indian bureaucracy canâ€™t be expected to be any different. But the moot question does it need the authority of the Cabinet Secretary and Secretariat to send routine reminders to ministries and departments that report to the institution.
The Cabinet Secretary is the top most executive official and senior-most civil servant in the Government of India. The Cabinet Secretary is the ex-officio head of the Civil Services Board, the Cabinet Secretariat, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and head of all civil services under the rules of business of the Government of India.The Cabinet Secretary is under the direct charge of the Prime Minister. Though there is no fixed tenure, the average tenure of the Cabinet Secretary has been less than 3 years. His or her tenure however, can be extended.
The senior-most civil servant has at its disposal a Secretariat. The administrative head of the Secretariat is the Cabinet Secretary who is also the ex-officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board. In the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 “”Cabinet Secretariat”” finds a place in the First Schedule to the Rules. The subjects allotted to this Secretariat are Secretarial assistance to Cabinet and Cabinet Committees and Rules of Business.
This case best illustrates the point. On November 10 the Secretariat sent a note to all the central government Ministries and Departments maintaining that it is mandatory for them to seek ex-facto approval of the Cabinet or the concerned Cabinet Committee even in the cases where the sanction of the Prime Minister is obtained.
An official memorandum by a director level officer in the Secretariat S.G.P. Verghese maintained that “”the note for seeking ex-post facto approval of the Cabinet o concerned Cabinet Committee should be forwarded to Cabinet Secretariat latest with n one month of the approval under Rule 12″”.
â€œAttention is also drawn to Cabinet Secre ary’s D.o letter no. 1/48/6/2015-Cab. dated 14.08.2015 which conveyed the directions of the Prime Minister that “”all MoUs that are signed by the Departments and are required o be brought before the Cabinet for post facto approval or information, under extant provisions, must be submitted within one month of the signing of the MoU. In case of any delay, the Note should detail the specific reason(s) and justification(s) in submitting the Note before the Cabinet after the prescribed time period”.
The memorandum complained that in spite of the clear instructions on the subject, instances of delayed submission of notes by Ministries/ Departments have been observed. In many cases, the Ministry/ Department have not detailed reason(s) and justification(s) for the de ay in submitting the note beyond the prescribed time period. â€œThis has been viewed seriously.â€
We shall wait and watch if indeed the reminder would be `viewed seriouslyâ€™ by the ministries and departments addressed. The past gives no reason for any optimism.
About the author: The author is a practicing hack, a cynic to core.”