Retirement is a concept introduced by the British people to streamline the administration. In the pre-British period for millennia the officers were occupying the government posts till the end of their life and it had resulted in retardation in administration. The British rulers avoided such retardation through the system of ‘retirement’ but, at the same time, they found a way of using the expertise of the retired persons through ‘Re-employment’ without affecting the forward movement of the others in service. The DOPT instructions on extension in service are very strict because the DOPT is aware of these historical facts.
In regard to the ESI Corporation, there is a provision in the Recruitment Regulations for every post in the ESI Corporation which permits relaxation under certain circumstances. It enables the Director General of the Corporation to relax any of the provisions of these regulations with respect to any class or category of persons if he is of the opinion that it is necessary to do so. He must, however, obtain specific prior approval of the Central Government. It is understood that this provision is invoked while granting extension. These Regulations do not provide for extension. But, extensions are possible only if the other modes of appointment like promotion, deputation or direct recruitment are waived by invoking the Relaxation clause. Moreover, the profuse use of the word ‘any’ in the Recruitment Regulations cannot override the provisions of Sec. 17 regarding the involvement of the UPSC.
Is extension in service that simple in the ESI Corporation?
There is a form prescribed by the Government of India which is required to be filled and sent along with the proposal. A simple perusal of the Form would show that the following formalities are required to be fulfilled before arriving at decision to send the proposal, if any, for extension.
- In the case of Medical Officers, the DPC should be convened by the Corporation itself. The cases of all the eligible officers must be considered by the said DPC. That Committee’s findings must show that all the eligible officers in the feeder cadre are unfit.
- Even if the officers in the Medical Cadre are eligible for time-bound promotion, the proposal for extension should not result in denial of promotion to the juniors. If the extension would result in such denial, the DPC should, already, have found them unfit.
- Thereafter the other modes of appointment, if any, for filling up the vacancy should be considered. It is those other modes, if any, which can be relaxed.
- It is only after completing all these formalities, the proposal for extension of the existing incumbent can be sent to the Government of India.
In the case of vacancies in the General side, the UPSC has a role to play. The UPSC must hold the DPC and find that all the eligible persons in the feeder cadre are not fit for promotion. The general rule is that the crucial date of eligibility for the vacancies, that occur in a financial-year-based-vacancy-year, is the preceding January 1st. For example, if the vacancy year is 2013-14, the crucial date to decide eligibility is 01.01.2013. But, there is no bar to promote the officers who become eligible on that day to be considered for promotion against the vacancies that occur during the period from 01.01.2013 to 31.03.2013.
As per the DOPT, O.M. dated 14.08.2013, “Such officers were entitled for consideration for promotion, subject to eligibility, only against vacancies arising, if any, in the vacancy year in which they are due to retire on superannuation”. This clarification given in respect of an officer retiring in the same financial year would apply more to the officers serving for a longer period. The main thrust of these instructions is that such officers who become eligible on 01.01.2013 need not be kept waiting till 01.04.2013. In other words, they cannot be denied from promotion during the period from 01.01.2013 to 31.03.2013, when they have completed the period of residency by 31.12.2012 and are found fit on examination of the ACRs / APARs.
UPSC must discharge its work beforehand:
DOPT says that ‘systematic review of the officers approaching the age of superannuation should be conducted well in advance so that whenever necessary suitable persons are selected in time to replace such officers and given training beforehand thereby minimising the number of proposals of for extension”. (Page 652 – Swamy’s Manual – 2012). These facts should be kept in view while examining the proposals for extension in the General side, because the UPSC has a statutory role to play in the appointments in the General side as per Sec. 17.
In the case of General side posts, the DOPT has also to be kept in the loop as per Para 9 of the DOPT instructions in Page 652 ibid. This is essential. Besides, DOPT says that “the number of top posts is bound to be very limited and a few persons should not have them for too long. (Para 7). An extension results in denial of promotion to scores of officers and staff down the line.
When a proposal for extension was sent in respect of Mr. G. R. Nayar, former Insurance Commissioner in the year 1989, (the pre-amendment period when that post was classified as one of the five posts of Principal Officers and the Government was appointing people through ACC), the proposal was negatived and the person in the feeder cadre with only six months service was promoted by relaxing the period of residency by 4 ½ years.
The provisions for relaxation in the Recruitment Regulations in the General side, have always been used for promoting the people in the lower cadre, even by relaxing the condition of period of residency, to stimulate vibrancy in the functioning of the organisation and not for extension for seniors to cause stagnancy. The provisions for relaxation was not used to waive the mode of promotion when promotion was the only mode of appointment.
Moreover, the ESI Corporation can promote the officers who become eligible on the first January of a year, on adhoc basis, on that day itself, after holding a meeting of the Screening Committee, if that Committee finds people fit. (One may refer to the item 12 (iv) in the proforma Page 657 of the Swamy’s Manual also in this regard). Col 12 in Page 658 is also very important.
It is always better and proper to use these provisions of relaxation to promote the juniors. That will be in public interest.