Blue-eyed ACF cherry-picked by Minister for two posts of CF in Forest Department
Lal Singh throws resentment of IFS officers to dustbin, makes appointments of non-cadre officers in brazen violation of IFS cadre Rules
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Dec 24: Throwing all rules and resentment of the Indian Forest Service (IFS) cadre officers to dustbin, Minister of Forest Choudhary Lal Singh has now cherry-picked an Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) simultaneously for two cadre posts of Conservator of Forest (CF).
Two days after the Jammu and Kashmir branch of the Indian Forest Service Association submitted a representation, seeking posting of officers on the cadre positions strictly as per the IFS (Cadre) Rules 1966, Commissioner-Secretary Forest Mohammad Afzal Bhat has issued Government Order No: 308-FST of 2016 Dated 23-12-2016. The order issued with the approval of Forest Minister says that Mohammad Maqbool Rather “incharge DCF”, Joint Director Forest Protection Force Kashmir, shall hold the charge of Conservator of Forest, North Circle, Kashmir, in addition to his own duties.
The IFS Association’s representation signed by its Secretary Dr Rajeev Kumar Tiwari and delivered in the office of Commissioner-Secretary Forest on December 20, had complained that posting of non-cadre officers against the cadre posts of DCF (Divisional Forest Officers) and CF had generated intense resentment and demoralisation among the IFS cadre officers in Jammu and Kashmir. It had been pointed out in detail that most of the young IFS officers were being attached to insignificant office and field positions in blatant violation of the IFS (cadre) Rules and many of such posts were manned by junior and non-cadre officers.
According to the latest Seniority List, issued vide Government Order No: 273-FST of 2015 Dated 09-10-2015, Mohammad Maqbool Rather, with Arts graduation and DDR, is simply an ACF who has joined as Forester as a Matriculate in 1977. While compiling the Seniority List, the competent committee set up by the Government had noted in the Remarks column: “There is no relevance for writing i/c DCF in the Seniority List as it has no bearing”. Without regard to the committee’s remarks, Commissioner-Secretary Forest has mentioned Mr Rather as “incharge DCF” and kept him posted as Joint Director Forest Protection Force, Kashmir, (equivalent to CF), besides Conservator of Forest North Circle, Kashmir.
“It is exactly like posting a Dy SP as DIG of Central Kashmir and giving him the additional charge of DIG of North Kashmir”, simplified a senior IFS officer. He revealed to STATE TIMES that the IFS Association would soon submit a comprehensive memorandum for redressal of grievances to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest. “Even a blind man will read out of this that such transfers and postings in Forest Department are the result of pecuniary considerations”, he asserted and claimed that a Srinagar-based DFO, who stands booked in several FIRs, played the role of middle-man in this and some other prize postings.
The IFS cadre post of CF North, Kashmir, was lying vacant since December 1 when, upon the retirement of CF Srinagar, Zahoor Ahmad Jan, CF North Javed Andrabi was shifted from Baramulla to Srinagar. For three weeks, Mr Andrabi also held the additional charge of CF North. On Saturday, he has been relieved by Mr Rather.
Resentment is palpable among not only the regular recruits of IFS, who stand confirmed as DCF, but also among the State Forest Service officers inducted into IFS. While picking up Mr Rather, Forest Minister has completely ignored CF rank officers like Ali Mohammad Dar, Agrostologist J&K, and Mohammad Shafi Kenu (DCF selection grade) who is currently Regional Director in Department of Environment and Remote Sensing.
Lal Singh’s favourite Mohammad Maqbool Rather is still ACF and far junior to both Ali Mohammad Dar and Mohammad Shafi Kenu and even the Kashmiri IFS regular recruits Irfan Ali Shah and Tauheed Deva who are holding insignificant postings of DFO Photo Interpretation Division and Project Coordinator WUQMA. Both are confirmed as DCF and superior in rank to Mr Rather.
Most of the non-Kashmiri IFS officers have been posted on insignificant positions. They include IFS-2009 officer, B Mohandas (DFO PI Division), IFS-2010 officers Jitendra Kumar Singh and Sat Pal (both posted in office of PCCF), IFS-2013 officers Jyotsana Sarkar (attached to office of DFO Jammu), Shveta Jandial (attached to office of CF East Jammu) and Neelima Shah (attached to office of Regional Director Social Forestry Jammu) and IFS-2014 officer Mohan Choudhary (attached to office of CF Chenab Circle Doda).
It has been repeatedly pointed out to Minister and Commissioner-Secretary Forest that these IFS cadre officers have not been posted against IFS cadre post (DFO and equivalent) which have been given to non-cadre officers against pecuniary considerations, favouritism and political clout.
The appointments of DFOs and CFs, ordered by Forest Minister Lal Singh, are clearly in violation of Section 8 (1) and Section 9 (1) (a) of IFS cadre Rules 1966 which make it incumbent upon the State Government to appoint only the IFS officers on the IFS cadre posts. Rule 9 (1) mentions that a non-cadre officer, if posted as a result of the non-availability of the cadre officer, shall be replaced by the cadre officer when he becomes available. It makes clear that a non-cadre officer cannot continue on a cadre post for more than three months without the “prior approval” of the Central Government.
While as the Forest Minister did not respond to phone calls from STATE TIMES, Commissioner-Secretary Forest Mohammad Afzal Bhat claimed that Mohammad Maqbool Rather had been appointed as CF North (in addition to his current posting as JD FPF) for being “senior most among the State Forest Service officers”
When it was pointed out to Mr Bhat that as per the Seniority List Maqbool Rather was only an ACF, he said: “He has been recommended for promotion (as DCF) but a court has stayed the process”. He said that Rather, along with a Jammu-based SFS officer, was already holding the post of JD FPF, equivalent to CF. He said that the IFS officers were "unnecessarily raising hue and cry" on transfers and postings ordered in the interest of the administration.
[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]