CBI & ED chiefs’ tenure extension warranted?

The government in its wisdom has recently allowed directors of CBI and ED, and secretaries of Defence, Home, MEA and R&AW to serve up to five and four years respectively.

Published: 28th November 2021 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th November 2021 07:13 PM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes

The government in its wisdom has recently allowed directors of CBI and ED, and secretaries of Defence, Home, MEA and R&AW to serve up to five and four years respectively. Maybe, it feels more secure in this herd and more confident in their potential to root out corruption, beef up defence, ensure internal and external security and project an effective foreign policy.

Maybe, it believes that important policy decisions and investigations need continuity for better implementation and for that, incumbents who have already been tried and tested can prove more useful. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will be advised to take a cue from this order and seek extended tenure for himself to bring important cases concerning the country’s economy, security, environment, communication etc to fruition.

However, the flip side of this decision is quite worrying. The leadership neither seems to have trust in the strength of its institutions nor in the merit of officers who were vying for the top job, to deliver. For those who are publicity-shy but otherwise outstanding in their work or who were kept deliberately in shadows by incumbents lest they steal the limelight, it is the end of the road for their career. Inevitably, officers in the MHA, MEA and Defence Ministry will suffer heartburns but they can be accommodated in other ministries/missions. But for in-bred professionals who slog for years in the hope of heading the CBI, IB, ED and R&AW in their turn, the option will either be to hang their boots or keep sulking until they retire.

Sadly, a new culture will now develop for staying longer at the helm. Incumbents will use ‘every’ means to keep their employers happy and juniors will pander to incumbents’ whims and fancies to ensure they are provided opportunities to be noticed. NDA may have extended the services of the most capable and honest officers but it has also paved way for dubious regimes to promote sycophants, cronies, event managers and power brokers among the aspirants. In this process, the government has deprived itself of new ideas and different perspectives in tackling issues, shaping policies and implementing programmes at hand. The private sector is wiser in that sense. It regularly inducts new talents at the top to keep pace with emerging challenges and opportunities.

The Winter Session of Parliament, beginning November 29 is all set to ignite over this issue. Opposition parties have made their intentions clear to corner the government by resorting to familiar theatrics. But given the NDA’s numbers, the ordinance/notification will easily sail through Parliament. It is in the Supreme Court where the government will be tested hard to justify its motive, legality and administrative propriety in rushing through this dispensation.

Amar Bhushan


Former special secretary, Research and Analysis Wing


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