PRESENT SYSTEM OF APPOINTMENTS IN RETROSPECT
The selections made by the ICAR since its re organisation have been the subject-matter of criticism not only in regard to individual selections, but also in regard to the general features of the methods of recruitment. As a result of the severing of connections with the UPSC whose selections are to a large extent insulated from political pressures due to its constitutional status, the new system in the ICAR was from the very beginning subjected to various types of strains and pressures. The formal association of the Minister as the President of the ICAR also was likely to expose the system to political pressures. We have noticed instances in which rejected candidates, even before formal announcement of the results of the selection approached Members of Parliament and other V.I.Ps., gave them handwritten notes and these were sent to the Minister by the V.I.Ps., for action. We also have come across cases in which the selected candidate, after having come to know about all these counter-pressures, being exercised by rejected candidates, himself went to another M.P. or V.I.P. and got a letter written in his favour to the Minister. The system of open selections for all the posts, had the effect of generating hopes in the minds of large number of scientists who competed for each post, and since most of them were naturally rejected, a sense of dissatisfaction and frustration came to be built up against the system. This was further aggravated due to a large number of grades. We have come across cases in which there have been claims and counter-claims by, and against, the same set of individuals. We have also received allegations about the experts being influenced in favour of certain candidates, and looking to the overall environment in the country, we would not be surprised if individual considerations might have found a place in many selections.
In its first meeting on 24th July 1972 the committee decided to make a request to the Director-General, ICAR for making available to the committee for its scrutiny all recruitment files from 1-4-66 onwards. By 31st July 1972, ICAR had made available a total of 879'files containing proceedings of selection committee for scientific and technical posts of Class I category, recruitment for which had been made by the ICAR itself. Subsequently, for a sample examination, files relating to recruitment to Junior Class I posts in the Indian Agricultural Research Institute from 1-4-66 have also been obtained. Apart from grave irregularities which have been observed in individual selections made by the ICAR, and which appear elsewhere in the report, various serious procedural irregularities have also been noticed.
An eminent scientist (Witness No. 27) told the committee in his evidence that once he was asked to serve as a member under one of his erstwhile junior officer though earlier he was invariably called as chairman. Another eminent scientist (Witness No. 127) who had worked as expert on a number of ICAR selection committees, deposed before the Committee that in one particular selection the decision taken in the forenoon, was sought to be changed in the afternoon. He opposed this change, and though his point of view was accepted at that time, subsequently he has never been called as an expert on any selection committee.
Ad hoc appointments made by the ICAR have been severely criticised before the Committee in the representations received by us and in oral evidence. While the general practice followed by the ICAR was that as far as possible, ad hoc appointments should be avoided,-in effect on many occasions this rule does not seem to have been followed.
Both for posts falling under the control of the Directors and those falling under the control of the DG, the power to make ad hoc appointments has been frequently resorted to. In certain cases, ad hoc appointments have been followed by regular appointments in favour of the ad hoc appointees. It has been alleged before the Committee that these persons have been favoured in regular selections as compared to other candidates who were not holding the ad hoc appointment, A better course of action would have been to have an officer-incharge only of current duties so that he would not have any undue advantage over other candidates. At least in those cases where new posts had been created, the appointments should have been made by regular selection procedure. Also it is noticed that these ad hoc appointments have been continued for too long in contravention of the bye-laws, some of such cases which have come to our notice are indicated below:
1. Appointment as Chief Production Officer in ad hoc capacity on this post on 2-4-68 and in regular capacity on 6-12-68.
2. Appointment as Chief P.R.O. in ad hoc capacity on 7-1-69 and in regular capacity on 4-12-69.
3. Appointment as Director, Central Rice Research Institute in ad hoc capacity from 5-4-66 to 19-3— 1969. The individual was first regularly appointed in a lower scale, and then selected again for the same post in a higher scale.
4. Appointment of a scientist as ad hoc Deputy Agricultural Commissioner from 26-2-66 to 1-1-70, as ad hoc Assistant Director General from 1-1-70 to 2-2-71 and regularisation in this post after that.
5. Appointment of a scientist as officiating Deputy Development Adviser (Animal Husbandry) from 25-3-65 to 31-7-66 and as Officiating Additional Deputy Animal Husbandry Commissioner from 1-8-66 to 31-7-69, Deputy Animal Husbandry Commissioner from 1-8-69 to 31-12-69 and A.D.G. (Animal Health) from 1-1-70 onwards. He does not even fulfil the essential qualifications prescribed for the post.
6. Appointments as Agronomist in Jute Agricultural Research Institute from 25-8-70 in ad hoc capacity and in regular capacity from March 1972.
7. Appointment of a scientist as Officiating Director, Central Coconut Research Institute from 27-11-67 to January 1970, and as Joint Director, C.P.CR.I. from January 1970 to June 1971. He also did not fulfil the minimum qualifications prescribed for these appointments.
8. Appointment as Officiating Senior Soil Conservation Officer from January 1966 to February 1967 and from 1-10-67 to 13-10-70.
9. Ad hoc appointment as Head of the Division of Agronomy, IARI on 1-6-71.
The system of recruitment followed by the ICAR since 1966 in retrospect appears to have suffered from the following main shortcomings:
- Absolute power had been concentrated in the hands of the Director-General, ICAR. It was he who nominated the official members of the selection committee; he who nominated-all external experts for posts of Rs. 700 to Rs. 1600, and two external experts for posts of Rs. 1600 onwards. He also had a very important role in finalising the Minister's nominations since he was putting up proposals to the Minister who is not a scientist.
- The selection committees, including the nomination by the DG of experts, were weighted in favour of the Official side. This situation was further aggravated because in a large number of selection committees, the requirements about the minimum numerical strength of outside experts was not followed in practice.
3. The time available to the selection committees for the assessment of the candidates who appeared before them was too short for finding out the merits of the candidates. We have been informed that the bio-data of the candidates were invariably not supplied in advance and were given to the members of the selection committees only at the time of the meeting.
4. Ad hoc appointments made by the ICAR have been severely criticised before the Committee. They have been continued for abnormally long duration and in one case for a period of five years. Such a course gives rise to the feeling that the power for making ad hoc appointments has been utilised for purposes of favouring individuals.
- 5. In the absence of any outside check, the practice of including names of such candidates who had applied late, in the list of candidates to be called for interview has been indiscriminately used by the senior officers in the ICAR. It has been noticed that while the initial screening was done carefully by the Director/Head of the Division concerned and approved by the DG, names have been later added indiscriminately without any such careful scrutiny. In one case a candidate had been called for interview who had met a senior scientist of the ICAR on the date of the interview and the said senior scientist in fact acted as a member of the selection committee and the committee selected the said candidate. In our opinion the least the Senior-Scientist ought to have done was not to have attended the meeting of the selection committee.
6. The model qualifications prescribed by the ICAR for posts under different categories suffer from vague generalisations. Prescribing one model qualification for several posts in a particular category, under various disciplines, in different Institutes, could hardly be justified,
7. The experts called on many occasions were not specialists in the particular field.
8. The time taken in recruitment was more than the time taken by the UPSC.