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Are Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh ‘punishment’ posting locations? Here is why the ‘dog walking’ IAS couple was transferred there from Delhi

As Sanjeev Khirwar and Rinku Dugga are IAS officers from AGMUT cadres, they can't be transfered to other cadres, that's why they were transferred to Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesn

Following the transfer of senior IAS officer Sanjeev Khirwar to Ladakh and his wife Rinku Dugga to Arunachal Pradesh, several people have interpreted this decision as a punitive measure, implying that Arunachal Pradesh, a state in the country’s north-eastern region, and Ladakh in the north are places state for “punishment posting of officers” due to their poor connectivity in comparison to other states and union territories. In reality, however, this conclusion is incorrect.

TMC MP Mahua Moitra was among those who remarked about the issue insinuating that transfer to Arunachal Pradesh is a punishment posting and why Sanjeev Khirwar was not transferred to any other state. She insinuated that by sending the erring officer to Arunachal Pradesh as a so-called ‘punishment posting’, the MHA is shaming the state, and proving that its claims of development in the far eastern state are false. However, Sanjeev Khirwar has been transferred to Ladakh, and it is his wife who has been posted in Arunachal Pradesh.

The tweet by Mahua Moitra.

Here is a detailed explanation of why Sanjeev Khirwar’s wife Rinku Dugga was transferred to Arunachal Pradesh and why he was transferred to Ladakh. Also, we will get to know why IAS officers are transferred to specific locations and how these decisions are made based on regulations.

What is the recent controversy?

The Indian Express reported on Thursday (May 26) that athletes and coaches were being compelled to finish their training before 7 PM in order to allow Delhi’s Principal Secretary (Revenue) Sanjeev Khirwar to walk his dog at the Thyagraj Stadium in the evening. According to the article, athletes who used to exercise until 8-8:30 PM under lights were instructed to depart by 7 PM. In the photographs published by IE, Sanjeev Khirwar and his wife Rinku Dugga were seen on the stadium ground with their dog.

Following the reports, the Ministry of Home Affairs transferred both officers from their current posting location in Delhi. The MHA transferred IAS officer Sanjeev Khirwar from Delhi to Ladakh in an order issued on Thursday (May 26), while his wife Rinku Dugga was transferred to Arunachal Pradesh.

What was the motive behind the transfer of the bureaucrat couple?

The transfer of the bureaucrat couple was initiated because of the apparent misuse of power and position by them in Delhi, the incident has highlighted the impropriety and elitist behaviour of the said IAS couple. Athletes and coaches were forced to finish their training before 7 PM in order to allow the couple to walk their dog at Thyagraj Stadium in the evening. The transfer is considered a punitive measure as both Husband and Wife were posted at a single location under the ‘spouse posting’ option of the central government and following the transfer, they will now be required to serve at different locations.

As a result, because they were stationed at a single location, their transfer to two distinct sites constitutes a kind of punishment. Furthermore, unless there are severe allegations against an administrative officer, no punitive action other than transfer can be taken against an officer.

How did the officers get posted at a single location?

The bureaucrat couple was posted at a single location according to a Ministry of Personnel directive stating that husband and wife might be posted at a single location under specific conditions. According to a circular issued by the Department of Personnel and Training on September 30, 2009, if both spouses are in the same Central Service or working in the same Department and if posts are available, they must be placed at the same station.

This form of posting has existed since 1986, although it was not necessary, and the DOP&T just provided recommendations. However, following the September 2009 order, it became mandatory except in some circumstances.

Why transfer to Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh and not any other state?

Both of the officers belong to the AGMUT cadre of the Indian Administrative Services, where AGMUT stands for Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory. This means, IAS officers selected in AGMUT will only be posted in either the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram, or any of the union territories. Delhi is also included in this cadre because it was an UT earlier. For other states, there are respective cadres. Apart from the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, all others are single state cadres. After selection to the IAS, the cadre is allocated based on various factors like merit ranking, indicated preference, available vacancies etc. Generally, home state is not allocated, and after allocation, change of cadre is generally not allowed except in some cases.

For multi state cadres, the officers can be transferred to different states in that cadre, but not to any other cadre. The couple was transferred to Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh because these are a part of the AGMUT cadre. They cannot be posted to any other state unless on special deputation or under certain circumstances.

What is the AGMUT cadre?

The AGMUT Cadre of the IAS/IPS, formerly known as the UT Cadre, is responsible for four units: the three states of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Goa, as well as Union Territories namely the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, NCT of Delhi, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The constituent units are physically distant as well as climatically, culturally, linguistically, and administratively. In terms of location, connectivity, and educational/medical facilities, the parts vary substantially. Due to this variety, officers deployed to these regions are assigned as per a distinct cadre known as the AGMUT cadre. Sanjeev Khirwar and his wife Rinku Dugga are both officers of the 1994 batch of the AGMUT cadre. This is the reason that they were transferred to Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh and not to any other state.

Who transfers IAS officers?

The service of an IAS officer is varied, and officers may be posted in different areas based on their tasks and the decision of the government. The regulations governing the transfer of IAS personnel can only be set by the central government. However, the central government engages with state governments when developing these rules. The Central Government alone has the authority to transfer the cadre of IAS officers. 

Conclusion

Because they are members of the AGMUT cadre, IAS officer Sanjeev Khirwar and his wife IAS Rinku Dugga have been posted to Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, respectively. Under the AGMUT cadre, they can only be deployed to certain states and union territories.

Furthermore, the officers’ postings are punitive in the sense that the couple has been sent to two distinct locations, rather than Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh being punitive assignments. They were also deployed together in Delhi under the central government’s spouse posting directive which now stands terminated.

They have been posted to Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh as a punishment because these areas are considered ‘hard’ areas. According to an order issued in 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs discovered that certain Cadre officers want to stay in Delhi or serve in ‘soft’ regions. The Ministry’s order was to ensure that no cadre unit was left without cadre officers and that the onus of serving in areas beyond Delhi, as well as in both the ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ areas, was divided evenly among the officers.

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Pallav
Pallav
Aristotelian and Platonic simultaneously.

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