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Sonia prod behind IAS shield plan

New Delhi, Dec. 25 (PTI): A letter from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to the Prime Minister on the suspension of Noida subdivisional magistrate Durga Nagpal had apparently prompted the government to consider changes in the All India Service rules to bring in more safeguards for IAS, IPS and other officers.

In an RTI reply provided to Lucknow-based activist Sanjay Sharma, the Prime Minister’s Office has said: “In the backdrop of the letter written by Smt Sonia Gandhi, the DoPT is in the process of affecting amendments to IAS (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969 which would subsequently need to be placed before the Cabinet for consideration/approval.”

The PMO refused to give further details on the issue saying: “Since the issue pertains to the Cabinet, it is exempted under Section 8(1)(i) of the RTI Act.”

The department of personnel and training (DoPT), which acts as nodal body for administrative matters related to the IAS, is revisiting the rules that outline procedure for disciplinary action against an officer of the service.

The move comes against the backdrop of suspension of Nagpal, a 2010 batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre who had taken on the sand mining mafia active in Gautam Budh Nagar district of the state.

The 28-year-old officer was suspended ostensibly for ordering demolition of a wall of an under-construction mosque without following the due process.

Following the suspension, Sonia, who is also the chairperson of the National Advisory Council, had written to Manmohan Singh seeking adequate safeguards for officers.

“We must ensure that the officer is not unfairly treated. At the same time, this particular instance has highlighted the need to assess whether there are adequate safeguards in place to protect executive functionaries working beyond the average call of duty to uphold rule of law,” Sonia had written on August 2.

Sonia had said the implementation machinery must feel that the conditions are conducive to delivery of public services without fear or favour.

If the changes in rules are made applicable, they will also have a bearing on two other All India Services — the Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service.

The over 4,700-member IAS Officers’ Association had also suggested changes in rules, including prior sanction of the Centre before any officer of the service is suspended by a state government among others.