By Rupesh Dutta
New Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS) Here’s the latest on a long-running battle between IAS and non-IAS cadres: Charging big brother with blocking promotions and a cadre review, the 1,700-strong association of the Indian Telecom Service (ITS) has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and ensure that they are posted as Joint Secretaries and above in every ministry.
“These officers can also bridge the gap between the targets and achievements in ongoing projects like BharatNet, Central Monitoring System, e-governance, Digital India Mission, ICT requirements for cashless and digital economy initiatives taken by the government apart from providing leadership to Telecom PSUs,” the ITS Association said in letter to Modi on December 9.
“In addition, these officers can be utilised as Technical Advisors in all Central Government Departments and Ministries apart from IT & Communications-related activities of State Governments so as to ensure cohesion between Centre and State while implementing the IT & Communication-related policies across India,” the letter added.
According to the association, a large number of officers at the level of Director and above have been denied promotions to the level of Joint Secretary since 2012-13 as the then Additional Secretary (Telecom) S.R. Rao, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, without following the rules, had erroneously declared the ITS cadre strength at only 463 against the then actual 1,853.
The association, which has been fighting for the last couple of years for the rights of its cadre, has also stated that the posts of ITS officers in the Department of Telecom (DoT) have suddenly vanished and they have been compelled to work in the telecom public sector undertakings (PSUs) such as Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Limited (MTNL) in degrading terms and conditions, adding to their existing woes.
The letter stated that there has not been any cadre review for the last 30 years and promotions to the level of Joint Secretary have been stopped from 2012, compelling the ITS officers to opt for legal remedies.
Quoting an order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) of Hyderabad, the letter stated it had held that the cadre strength of 463 mentioned by the then Additional Secretary was incorrect and had directed the DoT to conduct meetings of the Departmental Promotion Committee after listing the vacancies in various grades due to death, retirement, resignations and promotions.
The letter said that in spite of the CAT order, the DoT has recommended postings for only 853 officers, leaving the remaining officers without any post.
The letter says that the DoT is trying to coin a new term — “special diminishing reserve” — for the officers other than the 853. This means the ITS officers will be posted in the Junior Time Scale grade — much lower than the one they now hold and wouldn’t be considered for promotion.
“If this cadre review is approved in its present form, then it will permanently seal the career prospects of ITS officers and make them bonded slaves of BSNL and MTNL. Further, these ITS officers will work in same grade for about 20-30 years and retire without any promotion even though ITS is a prestigious organised Central Group A service of the Indian government like IAS, IPS, IRS and similar others,” Rama Krishna Nelli, an active member of the ITS Association, told IANS.
(Rupesh Dutta can be contacted at Rupesh.firstname.lastname@example.org)