New Delhi: In a rare action, the country’s premier external intelligence agency — the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) — has sacked four of its senior officials for ‘non-performance’ in the past one year.
ET has reliably gathered that the agency has handed over compulsory premature retirement to four joint secretary-level officers after a review of their service record and annual performance appraisals.
The decision was made on the basis of a rule of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) that allows government to get rid of non-performers after they have completed 30 years of service or have crossed the age of 50. The current government wanted this rule to be implement more forcefully. But the success has been moderate across departments.
On September 11, 2015, the DoPT had sent out an order that services of employees can be terminated prematurely in public interest and after considering the entire service record of the officer under the Fundamental Rule 56 (j) or Rule 48 of CCS (Pension) Rules. The DoPT quoted a Supreme Court verdict upholding compulsory retirement to explain that this rule can also be used for sacking of officers with doubtful integrity if there is not enough evidence to initiate punitive disciplinary action for removal from service.
These four officers were reviewed under Article 56 (j) because they had crossed the age of 50. Reliable sources told ET that these officials had been repeatedly overlooked for promotions and were fast turning “unproductive”.
MoS Personnel Jitendra Singh had on December 20 last year said in Parliament that provisions under FR 56 (j) and similar provisions under service rules have been invoked/recommended in case of 53 Group ‘A’ officers and 123 Group ‘B’ officers of Central Civil Services during July 1, 2014 till October 31, 2017.
R&AW has in the past used the route of “golden handshake” to get rid of tainted R&AW Administrative Service cadre employees before their due retirement age. Being retired under this rule allows the officer the right to legally challenge the government’s decision.
This is not the case if an officer is removed for national security reasons. The four intelligence officers, it is learnt, had served in key European countries prior to their dismissal from service.
The last known case of such dismissal was Nisha Priya Bhatia, a director-level officer in R&AW, who was compulsory retired on December 18, 2009, two years after she had alleged that she was sexually harassed at the workplace by a colleague in November 2007. Her expulsion was also upheld by the Delhi high court in October 2013 on the grounds that the allegations were a “smear campaign”.