Andhra Pradesh government order makes Chief Minister the final authority on performance appraisals of All India Services Officers posted in the State

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Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy conducting a review meeting with the Agriculture and other allied departments on April 6. Photo: The Hindu Archives

 

The Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy-led Andhra Pradesh government, in its latest order—G.O. Rt No.726—has changed the service rules of the All-India Services Officers. The order, which prescribes the reporting, reviewing, and accepting authorities for the writing of performance appraisal reports (PARs) of the All India Services Officers (IAS, IPS and IFS) posted in Andhra Pradesh, is, according to many experts, tantamount to placing the career prospects of these officers directly under the control of a politician.

Under the new orders, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary is the “reviewing authority” of annual appraisal reports of All-India Service Officers while the respective heads of departments are the “reporting authority”. But, most significantly, the final authority on the performance appraisal reports of all the officers, irrespective of seniority, will now be the Chief Minister. In short, the Chief Minister will be the “accepting authority” for the entire cadre of All India Services Officers serving in Andhra Pradesh.

Hitherto, it was the Chief Secretary who was the accepting authority for the performance appraisal reports of IAS and IPS officers up to a certain rank. In the cases of senior officers such as Principal Secretaries and Additional Chief Secretaries, the accepting authority was the Minister concerned and, only in some instances, the Chief Minister.

The order issued by Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das mentions the Chief Minister as the accepting authority for the performance appraisal of all IAS officers, including the Chief Secretary, the lone exception being the Secretary to the Governor. The Chief Commissioner of Land Administration and Special Chief Secretaries/Principal Secretaries will have the Chief Secretary as the reporting authority but will have no reviewing authority.

Among the IPS cadre, the Director General of Police and the Principal Secretary (Home) will have the Chief Secretary as the reporting authority and the Chief Minister as the accepting authority but no reviewing authority. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests will have the Chief Secretary and the Chief Minister as reporting authority and accepting authority respectively, but no reviewing authority.

K. Prabhakar Reddy, a former IAS officer who has served in the Chief Minister’s Office, speaking to Frontline, said: “The Chief Minister is now the ‘accepting authority’ for all the All India Services Officers in Andhra Pradesh, irrespective of their designation or seniority.” Prabhakar Reddy was of the view that the Chief Minister himself would not have the time to inspect the performance appraisal reports of all the officers, and it would, in all likeliness, be Secretaries in his office who would undertake the task. But this was for the first time that such a revision in the accepting authority for performance appraisal reports was being made, he said.

The State government has justified the changes by stating in the order that it had “reviewed the existing channel for writing of PARs and revised the same in order to ensure uniformity and control of the executive over the administration for effective public service delivery”.

The order has been received with scepticism by the cadre, and many who spoke to Frontline believe that it would be struck down by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and would not stand legal scrutiny. Said a senior bureaucrat: “The DoPT, which administers the All India Service Officers, may not take kindly to Andhra Pradesh tinkering with the service rules, especially if someone decides to challenge the order. Provisions governing service rules of officers of the All India Service cadre cannot be changed on the whims and fancies of a Chief Minister. This change will lead to IAS and IPS officers ignoring long-held hierarchical protocols since they know that the final approving authority is solely the Chief Minister.”

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