Concerns about the ‘functional autonomy’ of state civil officials have been expressed in light of the increasing number of Indian Administrative Service personnel who are retiring voluntarily or facing disciplinary action. The functional liberty of public workers in Madhya Pradesh has come into question when six government officials, including five Indian Administrative Service officers, retired voluntarily in the previous five years.
Varad Murti Mishra (52), who joined the list in January after being promoted from the state administrative services, is the most recent addition. Even though he still had seven years of service time available when he retired on August 4, he decided to leave on his own will. Mishra told The Wire that he believes there was once a period when individuals entered the civil service because they wanted to help the general public. Today, politicians are bought and paid for at every turn. It’s not their top priority to address concerns of their constituents, he added.
He said that not everyone has the same goals and aspirations as M.K. Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln. To realise their goals, they agree with the government’s objective and work to undermine the rule of law and the Constitution. One clear indication of this is the growing trend of communalism among the bureaucracy, which makes every effort to appease their superiors. Only around 40 or 45 of Madhya Pradesh’s 350 IAS officials are really influential in the state’s politics and bureaucracy. He said that the rest of the staff was merely making up the numbers.
Along with Jagdish Jatiya and Madhu Nahar, two more deputy secretaries have decided to take voluntary retirement this year. Nahar’s new position is that of deputy secretary in the office’s general administration. Jatiya, a deputy secretary in the state’s labour department and a recently promoted IAS official, submitted his VRS application months before his retirement in October. He is a member of what is known as a Scheduled Caste. Following the December 2018 Congress resurgence, he was appointed as District Collector of the tribal-dominated Mandla district.
While serving as Mandla collector, he had publicly spoken out against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizenship (NRC). When Shivraj Singh Chouhan was in the opposition, he brought this up with Governor Lalji Tandon and asked that he be punished severely for his actions. Months later, Jatiya was issued a “show cause” notice by the Union Ministry of Personnel and Training for his purported social media statements against the CAA and NRC. In September of 2020, he provided his answer to the issue. Jatiya was fired from his position as District Collector in March 2020 after Chouhan became chief minister for the fourth time by overthrowing the 15-month-old Congress administration.
Even though he sent his reply in September 2020, the issue has been held pending for two years, according to a person familiar with the situation. He is a target because he does not support the policies of the current administration. Not only was he demoted and passed up for advancement, but this might potentially impact his retirement benefits.
There were still almost four years remaining on IAS Gauri Singh’s contract when she decided to take voluntary retirement in December 2019, while the Congress party was in office.
The then-opposition BJP caused a stir in the legislature by claiming that honest personnel had been harassed. Gauri left her work and relocated overseas after accepting an offer from a global recruitment firm. However, it was rumoured that the then Kamal Nath-led administration demoted her to the panchayat and rural development department due to a disagreement with her. Rashmi Shukla Sharma, a former assistant chief secretary, and Pravesh Sharma, a former agricultural secretary, both took voluntary retirement under the BJP’s government in 2016 and 2017.
The most recent annual report from Madhya Pradesh’s general administrative department states that 347 IAS officials are employed by the state. There are 250 new IAS hires and 97 promotions.