Experts Advocate Review Of IAS Bias In Regulatory Posts

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Experts Advocate Review Of IAS Bias In Regulatory Posts

| Updated: March 25, 2023 12:06

The application date for the head of the competition watchdog has been extended, fanning yet another debate on the age-old practices of reserving regulatory head posts only for administrative service officers. A business daily has raised a pertinent question: should regulatory heads from the non-IAS fraternity be the call of the hour?

Two recent developments brought into sharp focus this longstanding issue. The date to apply for the post of chairman at the Competition Commission of India (CCI), vacant since October 25, was extended. Consequently, many crucial decisions on M&As have been put on hold.

Deepak Mohanty, an economist at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), was named chairperson of the Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority (PFRDA). However, Mohanty, the report says, is not an IAS officer. The business daily highlights that in the absence of vacant positions at the top, most regulatory bodies have often opted for retired IAS officers.

That said, having heads from a non-IAS background to help the government fill up posts efficiently may not be easy. An unnamed official told the daily that two short-listed candidates for the post of CCI chairperson were from the Indian Revenue Services (IRS). The government had no choice but to advertise for the position a second time. It was held that owing to the CCI’s collegium structure, having an IRS as chairperson and IAS officers as members would unsettle the hierarchy. 

KM Chandrasekhar, former cabinet secretary, hopes wiser counsel prevails. He believes if finding the right candidate from the pool of IAS officers is not possible, it makes sense to look outside. “We have had quite a few people from outside in regulatory bodies such as the Election Commission and electricity regulators. You cannot leave these posts vacant,” he was quoted as saying by the daily.  Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha too believes that the time has arrived to cast the net wider.

Raghuram Rajan, who was appointed governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Manmohan Singh, former Prime Minister, M Narasimham, who was in charge of several committees on banking reforms, IG Patel, later director of the London School of Economics, C Rangarajan, later head of the PM’s economic advisory committee, and Bimal Jalan, who had held several administrative and advisory positions with the government, are a few examples of non-IAS appointments, the report highlighted.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for personnel, public grievances and pension, Jitendra Singh, assured the Parliament that all Ministries and Departments of the Central Government were “ensuring action in a mission mode for filling up vacant posts in a time-bound manner.”

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