Kerala faces acute shortage of secretary-level officials

  • | Monday | 8th February, 2021

An analysis of the postings of senior IAS officers in the state cadre shows that the state government is facing an immense shortage of officers at the secretary rank and above.The analysis as on December 2, 2020, shows that the state has at its disposal only 16 officers in the rank of principal secretary, who are holding 31 posts between them, of which at least 27 are cadre posts, while there are only 18 officers in the rank of secretary who are holding 41 posts between them, of which at least 30 are cadre posts as per the cadre rules. Together, 34 officers are making good for 72 posts.

An analysis of the postings of senior IAS officers in the state cadre shows that the state government is facing an immense shortage of officers at the secretary rank and above.
The analysis as on December 2, 2020, shows that the state has at its disposal only 16 officers in the rank of principal secretary, who are holding 31 posts between them, of which at least 27 are cadre posts, while there are only 18 officers in the rank of secretary who are holding 41 posts between them, of which at least 30 are cadre posts as per the cadre rules. Together, 34 officers are making good for 72 posts.

On an average, every officer in the rank of principal secretary or secretary grade is holding two to three additional charges. For instance, principal secretaries K R Jyothilal and Rani George are holding at least three different posts each, Rajesh Kumar Sinha two different posts and there are five principal secretaries holding two different cadre posts. Among the secretaries, Tinku Biswal is holding four cadre posts, Sanjay Kaul is holding three, and there are six secretary rank officers holding at least three cadre posts.

To make up for the shortage, the government has even appointed officers of additional and joint secretary rank in the charge of secretaries, the data shows. For example, the charge of finance resources secretary has been handed over to G R Gokul who is presently in the additional secretary rank, the charge of secretary of electronics and information technology department has been handed over to Muhammed Y Safirulla, another officer in the rank of additional secretary, and the charge of secretary to chief minister, a post that was held by M Sivasankar, is now with Mir Muhammed Ali who is in the rank of joint secretary.

An analysis of the average tenure for the top bureaucrats that the decision taken by state government in 2014 for ensuring a fixed two-year tenure for IAS officers, on the basis of Supreme Court order, has remained only in papers. An analysis of the data shows that the average tenure for the officers of the rank of secretary and above in a post has been only 11 months till 2018, while it has further dropped below 10 months in the period after that.

Interestingly, such transfers of officers from the post are in complete violation of the rule as per amendments made in the IAS Cadre Rules, 1954, that was amended on January, 28, 2014. The state government, through an order (GO (MS) No.107/2014/GAD issued on May 5, 2014) had made the rules applicable in the state cadre on the basis of the Supreme Court on October 31, 2013, in TSR Subrahamanian and others vs Union of India and others case. The case was fought by TSR Subrahmanian, former cabinet secretary and 82 other former civil servants to ensure a fixed tenure and an independent working atmosphere for the senior policy makers. As per the sub rule (3) of rule 2 of the cadre rules, the cadre officer appointed to any cadre post shall hold the office for at least two years unless in the meantime he or she has been promoted, retired or sent on deputation outside the state or training exceeding two months.


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