112th Report on Demands for Grants (2022-23) of the Department of Personnel and Training – Substitute term ‘Central Government’ with ‘Union of India’- Recommendation by Parliamentary Committee. View para 3.25 of 112th Report on the Demands for Grants (2022-23) of the Department of Personnel and Training by Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice.
DEPARTMENT RELATED PARLIAMENTARY STANDING COMMITTEE ON PERSONNEL, PUBLIC GRIEVANCES, LAW AND JUSTICE
The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice headed by Shri Sushil Kumar Modi, MP, Rajya Sabha, presented its One Hundred Twelfth Report on the Demands for Grants (2022-23) of the Department of Personnel and Training (Ministry of Personnel Public Grievances and Pensions) on 24th March, 2022 to both the Houses of Parliament.
While examining the Demands for Grants, the Committee has made an appraisal of performance, programmes, policies of the Department of Personnel and Training vis-à-vis expenditure made out of Consolidated Fund of India in the current financial year during the meeting held on 3rd March, 2022.
The Panel scrutinised the Demands for Grants thoroughly spanning over almost six hours with the Secretary, Department of Personnel & Training; Director, Central Bureau of Investigation; Secretary, Central Vigilance Commission; Joint Registrar, Central Administrative Tribunal; Secretary, Lokpal; Secretary, Central Information Commission; Secretary, Union Public Service Commission; Chairman, Staff Selection Commission; Secretary, Public Enterprises Selection Board; Director, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration; Director, Institute of Secretariat Training & Management and Director General, Indian Institute of Public Administration. The Report was considered and adopted by the Committee on 22nd March, 2022. The Recommendations/Observations made by the Committee in this Report are enclosed. The entire Report is also available on https://rajyasabha.nic.in.
RECOMMENDATIONS/OBSERVATIONS-AT A GLANCE
112th Report on Demands for Grants (2022-23) of the Department of Personnel and Training
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF THE DEMANDS FOR GRANTS OF THE MINISTRY
The Committee notes that the Department of Personnel and Training has utilized only 77% of the funds allocated to it as on 31st January, 2022. In view of Finance Ministry’s instructions imposing a ceiling limit on the expenditure that can be incurred in the last quarter and last month (March), the Committee feels that it is unlikely that the remaining funds will be optimally utilized by the end of the ongoing fiscal year. The Committee recommends the Ministry to identify the factors that restricted or hindered
the utilization of funds and draw an action plan accordingly to improve the utilization of funds in future.
The Committee believes that optimal utilization of funds is as important as allocation of funds itself. A closer look at the budget utilization trends of 13 organizations functioning under DoPT reveals that only 6 organizations have utilized more than 80% of the funds allocated to them. The Committee notes that capacity building Commission and Lokpal could utilize only 22 % and 42% of the funds sanctioned to them respectively. The Committee also notes that IIPA which is grappling with infrastructure issues has also not fully utilized the amount provided to it. The Committee is of the opinion that underutilization of funds influences allocations for the next fiscal. In view of the above, the Committee recommends all the bodies functioning under the administrative control of DoPT to utilize the funds allocated to them in an optimal manner.
The Committee notes that CVC has not utilized the funds earmarked for advertising and publicity during 2021-22. Consequently, the amount of Rs. 50 lakh sanctioned in BE 2021-22 towards advertising and publicity was drastically reduced to 1lakh at RE stage. The Committee also notes that an amount of Rs. 10 lakh sanctioned for integrity index project was lying unutilized as the project could not be implemented. The Committee recommends CVC to make a constant endeavour to utilize the funds judiciously in the upcoming fiscal year to avoid any downward revision at RE stage.
The Committee recommends CVC to spend the lion’s share of its resources on strengthening its surveillance.
( Para 2.38)
As regards UPSC, the Committee notes that the amount sanctioned for ‘Professional services’ has been revised upwards from ₹ 9.20 crore in BE 2021-22 to ₹ 10.25 crore at RE 2021-22.The Committee has been informed that professional services cover charges for legal services and consultancy fees. The Committee notes that UPSC had spent about Rs. 10.25 crore to defend the Court cases in which Commission is a party and towards consultancy fees. The Committee would like UPSC to justify the expenditure incurred on litigation. The Committee recommends the Government to look into this matter and take necessary steps to reduce the expenditure incurred on litigation. The Committee is of the considered view that Government should advise Ministries/Departments to avoid being a compulsive litigant and that cases should be contested only after taking legal advice and every attempt should be made to pre-empt litigation at the point of origin itself.
The Committee observes that there is a huge shortage of more than 1500 IAS officers in the country. The gap between the sanctioned strength and the in-position strength of IAS officers is as large as 104 in UP cadre, 94 in Bihar cadre and 87 in AGMUT cadre. The Committee is of the view that, bureaucracy deficit is, perhaps, compelling states to take recourse to such means as appointing non-cadre officers to cadre posts, and continuing them in such posts beyond the permissible time limit besides giving multiple charges to serving officers. The Committee believes that such measures would compromise the efficiency of administration. Therefore, the Committee recommends DoPT to increase the annual intake of IAS officers significantly keeping in view the evolving needs of Indian administration.
The Committee notes that 12 Central Group A services are awaiting cabinet approval and the cadre review proposals of 9 services are pending with the Cadre review Committee. The Committee hopes that the cadre review of these 21 services is completed at the earliest. In respect of the remaining 17 services, the Committee notes that respective cadre controlling authorities have either not submitted cadre review proposals or there are dying cadre issues. The Committee recommends DoPT to take steps to expedite cadre review of these 17 services and ensure that the process is completed at the earliest and furnish a status note in this regard to the Committee. The Committee also recommends the Centre to undertake cadre review of posts designated as ‘Cadre posts’ exclusively earmarked for IAS officers in states. View: Status of Cadre Review proposals processed in DoPT as on 4th April, 2022
The Committee notes that, at present, there is no single nodal agency in the Central Government to monitor backlog reserved vacancies in various Ministries/Departments. The Committee, therefore, recommends the Government to designate Department of Personnel and Training as the nodal agency for this purpose. The Committee reiterates the recommendation made in its 106th and 108th Reports that the Ministries/Departments concerned may create a dashboard on their sites showing the details of backlog reserved vacancies and the progress made in filling them up. The Committee further recommends that DoPT may create a similar Dashboard on its site and update it regularly as and when information regarding reserved vacancies is made available to it by concerned Ministries/Departments.
The Committee expresses its concern over the fact that a significant number of IAS officers are not filing Immovable Property Returns every year. In fact, the Committee is surprised to note that there are 32 IAS officers who have not filed IPRs for more than three successive years. The fact that IAS officers are not filing IPRs for years points to a deeper malaise in the system. It also implies that ‘denial of vigilance clearance’ is no longer working as an effective deterrent. The Committee, therefore, recommends DoPT to come up with a proposal in this regard and submit a status note to the Committee in a month’s time.
The Committee recommends DoPT to prominently publish the names of erring officers on its website. The Committee also recommends DoPT to furnish the names of defaulting officers along with details of action taken against each officer in a month’s time.
Employees of Union of India
The Committee is dissatisfied with the response given by DoPT that substituting the term ‘Central Government’ with ‘Union of India’ may be outside of its purview. The Committee is unhappy with this disrespectful and inconsiderate response of the Ministry. At this juncture, the Committee would like to draw the attention of the Ministry to part V of the Constitution of India, entitled, ‘THE UNION’ which includes the Union Executive, the Union Legislature and the Union Judiciary. It is clear that the founding fathers of our constitution treated these three wings as constituents of the UNION.
Since the Ministry of Personnel Public Grievances and Pensions is the nodal agency for policy matters relating to personnel management as per the Allocation of Business Rules, the Committee desires the Ministry to enlighten it whether the term ‘Central Government’ or ‘Union Government’ was used at the time of framing of the Constitution. (Para 3.26)
The Committee takes note of a finding from the report of Seventh Central Pay Commission that the total number of federal/Union Government personnel per lakh of population in India and the US is 139 and 668 respectively. The Committee is of the considered view that the Union Government should restructure and align its personnel requirement in line with its current and future challenges. In view of increasing role and responsibilities of the Union Government, the Committee recommends DoPT to make advanced projections and align its human resource architecture so as to meet its future requirements. While doing so, the Department may attempt to increase the number of Union Government personnel per lakh population.
The Committee is not satisfied with the explanation offered by DoPT that posts manned through Central Staffing Scheme are of specialized executive nature and that it is not appropriate to draw officials from other wings of the Government. The Committee is of the view that this explanation is basically flawed as it is based on the assumption that officials serving other wings of the Union Government lack skills, competency and aptitude required for these posts. Also, when the officials of the executive wing can man certain posts in the legislative and judicial wings, why the reverse of the same is not possible. The Committee recommends DoPT to shun its assumption and open up possibilities for the officials of the legislative and judicial wings to serve the executive wing.
The Committee notes, from the data made available to it, that, during 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2019 Civil Services recruitment, the number of vacancies notified at the stage of preliminary examination were different from those notified at Main and final stages. For instance, in 2010, 965 vacancies had been declared at the time of notification, 1014 vacancies at time of declaration of preliminary result, 1064 vacancies at the time of declaration of Main result, and 1043 in the final result. The Committee feels that if 1043 vacancies had been declared at the time of announcement of preliminary result itself, more candidates would have got an opportunity to appear in Mains examination and consequently, the final result would have been different. Therefore, the Committee feels that changing the number of vacancies, at different stages of examination is not a healthy practice. The Committee recommends UPSC to ensure that vacancies declared at the time of announcement of result of preliminary examination should remain constant throughout the recruitment cycle.
The Committee is of the view that Government should appoint an expert group or Committee to assess the impact of changes made in the scheme, pattern and syllabus of Civil services examination in the last ten years on the quality of recruitment and administration at large. The expert group so constituted may assess if the present scheme of recruitment provides an equal opportunity to both English-medium educated urban candidates and non-english medium educated rural candidates. The expert group may also assess if the existing pattern of preliminary and mains examination has created a level playing field for all candidates irrespective of their academic background.
Disciplinary cases dealt with by UPSC:
The Committee notes that, as on date, 390 disciplinary cases are pending with UPSC. The Committee is of the view that administrative lag should be avoided at all costs and
no official should be made to undergo mental agony and monetary loss due to administrative delays. The Committee recommends UPSC to take necessary remedial measures and expedite the disposal of pending disciplinary cases at the earliest.
Recruitment Rules framed by UPSC
The Committee notes that over 500 Recruitment Rules approved by UPSC are pending notification by Ministries/Departments concerned. The Committee, therefore, recommends DoPT to impress upon Ministries/Departments concerned to designate a nodal officer for this purpose. The nodal officer may be held accountable for any delay in notification of Recruitment Rules thereafter.
The Committee is of the opinion that COVID-19 has caused untold agony and insurmountable sufferings to many. The whole of India had come to a standstill, lives and livelihoods got disrupted and the student community was also adversely affected. Keeping in view the hardships faced by the student community during the first and second COVID waves, the Committee recommends the Government to change its mind and sympathetically consider the demand of CSE aspirants and grant an extra attempt with corresponding age relaxation to all candidates.
The Committee is of the view that there is an inverse relationship between transparency and litigation. The greater the transparency, the lesser the litigation. The Committee recommends Staff Selection Commission to maintain the highest possible level of transparency so as to preserve the integrity of the recruitment process.
The Committee notes that Union Cabinet had given its approval to set up a National Recruitment Agency as far back as in 2020. The Committee also notes that NRA has utilized ₹58.32 crore in 2021-22 and an outlay of ₹ 396 crore has been earmarked in BE 2022-23. However, NRA has not seen the light of the day yet. The Committee would like to be informed as to why NRA has not been operationalized yet. The Committee recommends DoPT to apprise the Committee by when NRA will become fully functional.
Public Enterprises Selection Board
The Committee appreciates PESB for clearing a large number of backlog vacancies as speedily as possible. However, the Committee is not happy with the representation of women in Board level posts in PSUs which it found to be acutely low. The Committee recommends PESB to apprise it whether the situation has arisen due to the shortage of women candidates competing for Board level posts or due to their not satisfying requisite eligibility conditions.
Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration
The Committee is of the view that training should be continuous and it should be tailored to the needs of the individual. The current training programmes offered at LBSNAA, especially at mid-career level, are based on the premise that all officers need training, that too, the same kind of training. The Committee feels that this assumption is basically flawed. Training needs vary from individual to individual and therefore, the Committee recommends LBSNAA to first assess the core competencies of the officer, then perform a gap analysis, determine the training needs and chalk out a training programme accordingly. The Committee recommends LBSNAA to shift its approach from ‘one-size-fits-all training’ to ‘need-based customized training’. Further, the Committee also recommends LBSNAA to make its digital library, training modules accessible to general public.
The Committee is of the considered view that LBSNAA needs to re-orient its training programme to make young civil servants sensitive to the needs of the general public, especially the marginalized and the vulnerable. LBSNAA needs to integrate class room based theoretical training with experiential training in real settings. During the course of training, LBSNAA may assign young officer trainees to tribal hamlets, remote villages, areas with harsh terrains and difficult conditions for two-three weeks, completely disconnected from mundane life and enable them to get first-hand experience about the challenges faced by these groups of people on day-to-basis. The Committee is confident that this change will go a long way in bridging the gap between the Government and the governed.
Institute of Secretariat Training and Management
The Committee is concerned to learn that ISTM is grappling with significant human resource deficit. The Committee has been apprised that the shortage of faculty has arisen, due to non-availability of officers with requisite eligibility conditions on deputation basis. The Committee reiterates that ISTM needs to reduce its dependence on deputed officials. It may recruit permanent faculty and also hire retired officials who fulfil requisite eligibility conditions to overcome this problem. The Committee also recommends ISTM to make its digital library, training modules accessible to general public. (Para 5.11)
The Committee is of the opinion that improving the digital readiness of public servants and upskilling their ICT capacities is central to India’s digital transformation, especially in the Government sector. The Committee, therefore, recommends ISTM to impart training in digital technologies relevant to public servants such as e-office, basics of computer and internet, MS-office etc.. While developing such modules, ISTM may focus on tasks relevant to specific types of duties.
Indian Institute of Public Administration
The Committee notes that, with the Grants-in-aid provided by DoPT and the revenue generated from training and research programmes, IIPA is hardly able to make both ends meet. Given this situation, IIPA is unable to appoint superior faculty, innovate, tie- up with world class institutions or modernize its training programmes. The Committee is of the view that budgetary constraints have restrained IIPA from appointing permanent faculty. The Committee, therefore, recommends DoPT to enhance the Grants-in-aid provided to IIPA significantly. The Committee also recommends IIPA to make its digital library, training modules accessible to general public.
The Committee notes that Advanced Professional Programme in Public Administration, the flagship training programme of IIPA, is for officers who have at least 10 years of Group A service and of the rank of Director/Deputy Secretary in the Government of India or those holding equivalent posts. The Committee feels that every public servant should have the leeway to assess his strengths and weaknesses, determine his training needs and strive to hone his skills as per the requirement, and, in this process, age, rank or work experience of the official should certainly not become a limitation. The Committee, accordingly, recommends DoPT and IIPA to expand the scope of APPPA to cover public servants of all ranks.
Civil Services Capacity Building Commission
It has come to the notice of the Committee that general etiquette and protocol are not followed by civil servants with respect to public representatives. The Committee recommends DoPT to formulate guidelines regarding general etiquette, protocol and observance of courtesy by civil servants in their dealings with Members of Union and State legislatures. The Committee recommends Civil Services Capacity Building Commission to incorporate this important aspect of behavioural skill training in its civil services capacity building programmes.
INTEGRITY, VIGILANCE, TRANSPARENY AND SERVICE MATTERS
Central Bureau of Investigation
On the question of pendency, CBI in its written reply submitted that a total of 1025 cases are pending investigation with it and out of them 66 cases are pending for more than 5 years as on 31st January, 2022. The Committee feels that this pendency can be effectively reduced if the manpower requirements are taken care of. The Committee, therefore, recommends the Government to undertake Cadre restructuring of CBI at the earliest. The Committee also recommends that CBI should make efforts to reduce its dependence on deputation and strive to recruit permanent staff atleast upto the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The Committee is of the view that delayed justice is no justice at all and cases cannot linger on without a definite closure for decades. The Committee, therefore, recommends that CBI may prepare a roadmap for disposal of cases pending with them and inform the Committee accordingly.
The Committee desires to have details of number of cases/complaints registered with CBI year-wise, number of cases pending and the period for which they have been pending, number of cases pending investigation, number of cases pending trial, number of cases that have completed trial, percentage of conviction vis-a-vis acquittal in the Action Taken Note. The Committee would also like to know how many cases being investigated by CBI have been stayed by Courts.
The Committee notes with concern that several states have withdrawn their general consent to CBI. The Committee may be furnished with details of states that have withdrawn their General consent as on date and also whether such states have granted specific consent in certain cases. The Committee also desires to have details of number of cases in which the states have refused to give consent to CBI for investigation and number of cases in which specific consent has been given by states.
The Committee is deeply concerned to note that 73703 cases are pending with CAT. The Committee recommends CAT to put a Case Management system in place and prioritize the disposal of long pending matters first. The Committee feels that pendency of cases with CAT is invariably linked to its strength. The Committee takes a serious note of the fact that most Benches have just one Member. The Committee, in no uncertain terms, recommends DoPT to fill up the vacant posts at the earliest.
The Committee notes that as many as 72 vigilance cases, including those involving serious allegations are pending sanction for prosecution beyond the stipulated time limit of three months. The Committee is strongly concerned to note that not granting sanction for prosecution within the stipulated time limit has become a routine affair. Therefore, the Committee recommends the Government to amend the relevant provisions and empower CVC to take necessary action in such cases where the competent authority fails to grant sanction for prosecution within stipulated time limit without valid reasons.
The Committee notes that a large number of complaints are pending with CVOs. As per the annual Report of CVC, during the period Jan 2020 to Dec 2020, 569 complaints received by CVOs through CVC and 11693 complaints received directly by themselves are pending for more than the stipulated period of three months with them and some complaints are pending for over three years. The Committee would like CVC to apprise it as to why such a large number of complaints are pending with CVOs and why the stipulated timelines are not being adhered to.
The Committee would like Lokpal to apprise it if the prosecution and inquiry wings have been constituted. The Committee would also like to know if Lokpal had laid down the manner and procedure of conducting preliminary inquiry and investigation. The Committee recommends Lokpal not to reject any complaint involving allegations of serious nature on the technical ground that the complaint is not in prescribed format.
Central Information Commission and Right To Information
The Committee is concerned to note that 96 out of 152 staff of CIC are appointed on contractual basis. The Committee would like CIC to recruit regular staff at the earliest. A closer look at the trend of pendency reveals that a large number of complaints/second appeals have piled up during the first and second COVID waves. The Committee would like CIC to apprise it about the average time taken for disposal of complaints/second appeals, monthly rate of disposal and average number of cases disposed per Information Commissioner during the last three years.
The Committee is dismayed to note the indifferent response of the Central Information Commission. The Committee is concerned to state that CIC has taken one long year to apprise it that the information sought by it is available in its annual report. The Committee insists CIC to assess the effectiveness of the RTI act and send a status report to it in three months time.
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