Nearly 30% positions are vacant in middle to senior management rank in various Central government Ministries as the Union government has not promoted officials of the Central Secretariat Service (CSS) in the past six years.
The employees have petitioned the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to issue promotion orders as many officials have retired in these years, losing out on enhanced salary and pension benefits. The Forum has even tried to catch the attention of the government through a Twitter storm last week.
According to CSS Forum, an association of government officers, there are 6,210 officers in the rank of section officer, Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Director and Joint Secretaries with 1,839 positions of them lying vacant.
The CSS officers are the backbone of the offices as files, documents and orders are processed by them.
A CSS official said the promotions are stuck on the pretext of pending court cases. In October 2021, the Supreme Court reserved its judgement on the grant of reservation in promotion to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) in government jobs.
A contempt petition was filed against the promotions issued by the DoPT and that matter was tagged with the case pertaining to the reservation in promotion to the SC/STs.
Manmohan Verma, General Secretary of the CSS Forum, said that in June 2018, the DoPT had issued instructions to all Departments and Ministries to effect promotions according to the judgement of the apex court in Jarnail Singh Vs Union of India and others.
“Accordingly, all Departments are issuing regular promotion orders of all Central government employees but only the DoPT which is the cadre controlling authority of the CSS officers has not issued orders for regular promotions for more than six years on the pretext of pending court cases,” Mr. Verma said.
A five-judge Bench judgment in the Jarnail Singh case in 2018 had provided for “accelerated promotion with consequential seniority” for SC/ST members in government services. In 2018, the Supreme Court said it was up to the State governments to find ways and means of implementing the court’s June 2018 judgment.
To tide over the crisis, the DoPT promoted 2,770 officials on an ad hoc basis since 2020. “There are more than 1,800 vacancies that needs to be filled through promotions on an immediate basis… further out of the 4,400 officers, more than 60% are working on an ad hoc promotion,” said a CSS official.
The vacancies are in addition to the acute shortage of the All India Services (AIS) officers — IAS, IPS and IFoS. To fix the shortage, which according to the DoPT has arisen as States are not sponsoring adequate numbers of officers for Central deputation, the department has proposed amendments that could give more powers to it to summon AIS officers to be posted with the Union government.