NEW DELHI: A parliamentary panel has rapped the Ministry of External Affairs over a 2008 order imposing additional "essential requirements" for promotion of Indian Foreign Service officers, saying it cannot "override" statutory rules by way of executive instructions.
The Lok Sabha Committee on Subordinate Legislation in its 28th report said it noted that in 2008, the then foreign secretary issued executive instructions imposing additional "essential requirements" over and above the eligibility requirements laid down under the IFS (Recruitment, Cadre, Seniority and Promotion) Rules, 1961.
The report was presented today by panel chairperson Dilipkumar Mansukhlal Gandhi.
The committee has strongly recommended that the revised benchmark for the promotion of Grade IV, III and II officers to Grade III, II and I may be incorporated in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) Rules, 1961, by urgently bringing and notifying the necessary amendments in the relevant rules.
The panel said it has noted the justification given by the MEA that the additional "essential requirements" were imposed for ensuring a more transparent and objective appraisal system for higher morale, greater efficiency and optimum performance.
The committee has opined that the executive instructions issued cannot be construed as merely a gap-filling measure in the rules and such kind of substantive provisions can be prescribed only as part and parcel of the statutory rules, otherwise, there will be no sanctity of framing rules if they are overridden by executive instructions, the report said.
The committee has, therefore, reaffirmed that the ministry cannot "override" the statutory rules framed in pursuance of Article 309 of the Constitution by way of executive instructions under the disguise of filling up of gaps, it said.
The panel also commented on the reasonableness of the requirements imposed by the order of then foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon for considering promotion of IFS officers from Grade IV (Director) to Grade III (Joint Secretary).
The requirements for promotion from Grade IV to III included serving for two years abroad in a mission at the level of first secretary or counsellor and serving for two years at the headquarter of the ministry here at the level of under secretary, deputy secretary or director.
The committee opined that issues such as posting and deployment of IFS officers come within the administrative domain of the ministry and it is beyond the control of an officer to decide the place of posting.