NEW DELHI: IAS officers working with the Centre can now be suspended only with the approval of the minister in charge of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), according to new rules that are aimed at protecting them.

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Until now, the Centre could suspend an IAS officer and a Central Review Committee of bureaucrats would step into the picture only if the suspension was to be continued beyond a year.

The DoPT notified the new rules on December 21, saying IAS officers working with the Centre can now be suspended only on the recommendation of the Central Review Committee and with the approval of the DoPT minister in charge, who is currently minister of state Jitendra Singh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi , the administrative head of the DoPT, has spoken in the past about protecting honest officers. The new rules have kicked in after almost year-long deliberations with the states in the backdrop of suspensions of IAS officers including Ashok Khemka and Durga Shakti Nagpal.

States will now have to inform the Centre within 48 hours of suspending any all-India services officer (IAS, IPS and IFS) working for them.

Copy of the suspension order and reasons for the suspension have to be communicated,” the new rules say. There was no time limit earlier. Also, the state cannot keep an officer suspended beyond 30 days if the Centre does not confirm the suspension or if disciplinary proceedings are not initiated. The earlier period was 45 days.

The Central Review Committee will now have the secretary of the DoPT as chairperson and its members will be the DoPT’s establishment officer and the secretary of the ministry where the IAS officer is posted. Previously, the committee was headed by the secretary of the ministry concerned and it was optional to co-opt a DoPT officer.

The draft rules circulated in April proposed that the Centre would need the recommendations of this committee to continue the suspension of its officer beyond a week – a proposal that’s now been dropped. Suspension in the first place now would require the committee and the minister’s nod. This is aimed at checking any arbitrary suspension at the Centre’s level as well. These All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Amendment Rules, 2015, replace the rules of 1969.

The new rules also stipulate that any appeals or memorials against disciplinary action taken by the state government or a central ministry against an all-India service officer must be forwarded to the Centre with the ministry or state’s comments within 30 days of receipt “or the Central government will take a decision on the advance copy of the appeal received by them.”

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