KAS officers say govt fixing their seniority on basis of age rather than merit

SRINAGAR, Jun 28 (Agencies): Several KAS officers are worried that the government is about to fix officers’ seniority on the basis of age rather than merit. They say the move will have adverse implications for bureaucracy in the longer run.
The officers’ seniority, which determines their promotion and even induction to the IAS quota, has been a lingering dispute and has virtually rendered top posts in the IAS induction quota unfulfilled, sources told Kashmir Reader.
Officials informed that the dispute has been a result of the erstwhile system in the Jammu and Kashmir bureaucracy wherein the seniority of a KAS officer was fixed in the particular department in which he was posted along with other officers in that department.
Such a policy unlike the present day system in J&K government wherein a combined seniority of KAS officers is compiled by the General Administration Department even as they are deputed to different departments, resulted in disparity in the promotions, sources said.
“As there are different slots for promotion created in the departments at different intervals, it results in disparity in promotions,” an official said.
In order to resolve this issue of seniority among the affected officers due to the erstwhile policy, the GAD had on April 1 constituted a 4-member committee to examine in detail the seniority issue of the members of Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS Officers) appointed from January 1, 2004 to December 1, 2018.
The committee was asked to “work out the possible options for finalizing the seniority list on a normative basis” and submit its report within a month.
On May 29, the GAD said in another communiqué that the report had been accepted by the competent authority while asking the committee to redraw the seniority of KAS officers appointed between the said dates “based on the principles/findings laid down by the committee”.
The committee was asked to submit the redrawn seniority by June 5.
Several KAS officers alleged that the said committee had recommended to the government fixing seniority “on the basis of age”, which they said, “has never happened” so far.
The aggrieved officers said that fixing seniority on the basis of age will have “implications” on inductions into IAS.
“The younger officers will be the last ones to be inducted and no officer will have adequate length of service in IAS to attain senior positions like Commissioner Secretary,” a KAS officer said.
But a top-rung official in the GAD told Kashmir Reader that the committee had recommended fixing the KAS officers’ seniority “as mandated under rules rather than age per se”.
The official informed that as per the Induction rules of 1979, the seniority has to be determined by merit and length of service in order.
In case the two overlap for any two officials, then only will the seniority will be decided on the basis of age, the official added.
He further said that the recommendations by the committee will first go to the establishment committee and everything will go as per the rules.
Meanwhile, a junior KAS officer said that seniority dispute had stalled promotions of several of them and had even left seats in the IAS induction quota vacant.
“This is why you saw a KAS officer being recently appointed Commissioner Secretary to a particular department. Otherwise, his IAS induction was due years ago,” the officer said of the seniority dispute.
Concerned officials in the government were not available for comments.

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