The Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), that includes former civil servants of the All India and Central Services, have written an open letter to the President of India objecting to the “systematic attempt” being made to change the character of the civil services. According to the CCG, these services “were uniquely intended to be a protective ring around the Constitution, unaffected by political changes, having an All India perspective rather than a regional, parochial one and being secure enough to maintain an independent, nonpartisan outlook, without fear or favour”.

They stated that “the bedrock of all civil services in any democracy worth the name is their independence, neutrality, non-adherence to any political ideology in the discharge of official duties, the freedom to articulate their views to the political executive and the security of knowing that they would not be subjected to arbitrary actions for adhering to these values.”

However the veteran civil servants claimed that there is an attempt to “distort this basic framework and historical understanding.” They added that “measures are being taken that threaten the unique federal design of the IAS and the IPS, which underlies Sardar Patel’s vision of a permanent civil service that would both bind the country together and enable it to maintain a balance between the interests of the Union and the interests of the States.

“There are noticeable attempts to pressurise officers to show exclusive loyalty to the Union rather than to the ‘parent’ state cadre to which they are allotted. On occasion, arbitrary departmental actions have been taken against those who refuse to do so. Service Rules are sought to be amended to compel central deputations without the consent of either the officers concerned or their state governments, effectively undermining the authority and control of Chief Ministers over their officers. This has disturbed the federal balance and left civil servants torn between conflicting loyalties, thereby weakening their ability to be impartial.”

They recalled that even in the past governments have permitted lateral recruitment at senior levels, however, add that lately, “there has been opacity in the recruitment process at mid-levels and concerns that candidates are being chosen based on their ideological predilections.”

They write that the “actions and words of some very senior functionaries of the central government increases our concern on the future of the civil service and the consequent danger to democracy in India.”

The Constitutional Conduct Group letter signed by 82 members may be read here: