In India, a common man would retire by the age of 58 or 60, following which s/he can enjoy retirement benefits including pension and provident fund. However, this doesn't apply to civil servants of the IAS, IPS or IRS cadre; these babus never retire. In Maharashtra, a babu would often have his retirement letter in one hand, and an appointment letter for a new job in the other.
In the last 15 years in Maharashtra, over 12 retired chief secretaries have been rehabilitated with constitutional posts. So the common man may retire at 58 or 60, but the babu may continue working till the age of 65 and above.
Three days ago, on 28 February, chief secretary Swadhin Kshatriya announced his retirement. He handed over charge to Sumit Malik, his 1982 batchmate. Within two hours of his retirement, at 5 pm, the state government announced Kshatriya will become the first Right to Service Act commissioner. His five-year tenure began on 1 March, 2017, the very next day after his official retirement as chief secretary.
Kshatriya had been chief secretary for 32 months, and used to be the BEST general manager, BMC commissioner and principal secretary to the Maharashtra chief minister prior to that.
Kshatriya is not the first chief secretary to hold a constitutional post — his predecessors have also benefited likewise. In the last five years, six Maharashtra chief secretaries have enjoyed government benefits after retirement. Johny Joseph was Uplokayukta for five years, and is still on the Environment Committee; JP Dange deputed on the Finance Commission; Ratnakar Gaikwad is the chief Right to Information commissioner; Jayantkumar Banthia is Sicom president; and JS Saharia is State Election Commissioner. That makes it six former chief secretaries all enjoying huge offices near Mantralaya, over a dozen clerical staff, and a car with a red beacon, all until they turn 65.
Whoever is in the government, it makes no difference to the babus. The favouritism started when the Congress-NCP was in power, and has continued under the present BJP-Shiv Sena government as well. Retired chief secretaries have always received constitutional posts immediately. Premkumar was sent to Sicom; P Subramanium was appointed director of the Maharashtra Electricity Recgulatory Commission, V Ranganathan sent to the Heritage Committee; DM Sukhtankar was president of the Shirdi Trust; and Arun Bongirwar is a consultant on various projects after his retirement.
It's something former home secretary Madhav Godbole wants to change. Godbole has filed a PIL in the Supreme Court against the appointment of Kshatriya as Right to Service Act commissioner. "The appointment is in violation of rules. If the state government thinks a retired chief secretary is the best suited person for this post, it's ridiculous. They didn't even advertise for this position. These days former chief secretaries are being appointed to key roles to get some benefits from them in return. If the state government wants transparency in governance and improvement of the administrative mechanism, there is no need to appoint a retired officer," he said.
However, Kshatriya doesn't agree with this observation. "I've given 37 years of my life to the state government. The state and its chief minister knows how my experience could benefit the Commission. The Right to Service Act could benefit from my leadership," he said.
Former IPS officer and well-known lawyer YP Singh also agreed with this, calling it a biased decision. "If the state government was planning to appoint a Right to Service Act commissioner in the state, why didn't they advertise for the post? It means only Chief Minister Fadnavis and Kshatriya knew about this post. It's favouritism on part of the government, to benefit a retired officer, who will in turn support the government over the next five years," he alleged.
But even if not for the constitutional post created for him, Kshatriya could have joined a private company like many babus before him have done. Private companies know the value of having a bureaucrat in their ranks. So it's true that a babu never retires, only the common man retires.
Updated Date: Mar 03, 2017 14:26 PM