Despite long years of affirmative action in India, the higher bureaucracy at the Centre has less than 10 per cent representation from the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), and not a single one from Other Backward Classes (OBC). Higher bureaucracy refers to officers at the level of Secretary, Special Secretary, Additional Secretary and Joint Secretary.

According to a written reply by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in the Lok Sabha, there are 431 officials at the Secretary, Special Secretary, Additional Secretary and Joint Secretary level in various Central Ministries and Departments. Of this, only 28 belong to the SC category and 12 to the ST category. These officials are appointed under the Central Staffing Scheme (CSS).

As far as OBC officers are concerned, “the reservation for officers belonging to OBC started with effect from 1994. The officers who qualified under OBC reservation system are yet to gain the requisite seniority for appointment as Additional Secretary, Special Secretary and Secretary”, said the reply.

It said that the appointment of an officer depends on empanelment to hold the post and willingness to come on Central deputation.

It clarified that the posts of Secretary of scientific departments, External Affairs Ministry, legal affairs department and legislative department are under the Central Government and not CSS.

To fill up the post of Secretary, Additional Secretary and Joint Secretary in Central Ministries and departments under CSS, the officers of various services, such as Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and allied services, are empanelled. These posts are not cadre posts of any service, it said.

“Out of empanelled officers, those who give their option for deputation are considered for appointments under the CSS. There is no provision for reservation of SC/ST in the posts under CSS.

Liberal benchmarks

However, at the time of empanelment every effort is made to empanel officers belonging to SC/ST categories, if necessary, by adopting liberal benchmark as compared to officers of general category,” it said.

The reply made it clear that since these posts under CSS are not cadre posts of any service, the question of promotion to the rank of Additional Secretary/Joint Secretary under the CSS does not arise.

“The promotion to such officers is given in the cadre,” it said.

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