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IAS-IPS cadre allocation policy of 2017: SC seeks Centre's reply on fresh pleas

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New Delhi, Jun 17 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to file its response on a batch of pleas of over two dozen trainee IAS and IPS officers of the 2018 batch, who have sought parity in the government's cadre allocation scheme with 20 of their colleagues, who were granted relief by the top court last month. The Supreme Court had, on May 17, granted relief to 20 trainee IAS and IPS officers, who had challenged the government's cadre allocation process for the 2018 batch, by asking the Centre to accommodate them by increasing one post each in the state cadres of their preference this year. After the May 17 order, now two sets of 2018-batch trainee IAS and IPS officers have moved the apex court -- one group of 20 candidates has challenged the Delhi High Court verdict that had quashed the entire cadre allocation process and the other group of five officers has filed a fresh writ petition seeking parity with 20 of their colleagues. Several other trainee IAS and IPS officers have also sought impleadment in these two petitions. A vacation bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant said prima facie it did not agree with the high court's view. "This is our tentative view that prima facie we do not agree with the high court order and the government should not have conceded in this manner," the bench said as it asked Additional Solicitor General Vikramjeet Banerjee to file the Centre's affidavit in the matter. It listed the matter after two weeks before a regular bench. Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and advocate Shashank Ratnoo, appearing for the candidates who have challenged the Delhi High Court verdict, said the government could not give relief to only a select lot of trainee officers. Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the five trainee IAS and IPS officers who have sought parity with 20 of their colleagues, said these trainee officers also had equal rights and that they be permitted to provide cadre preferences afresh. The trainee officers are aggrieved with the Cadre Allocation Policy for All India Services, which was introduced by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on September 5, 2017. According to the 2017 office memorandum on cadre allocation policy, the states and the joint cadres were divided into five zones. According to the policy, the candidates were required to first give their choice in a descending order of preference from amongst various zones. Thereafter, they would indicate one preference of cadre from each preferred zone. The candidates would indicate their second cadre preference for every preferred zone thereafter. A similar process would continue till a preference for all cadres was indicated by the candidates. Cadre allocation for the 2018 batch was undertaken in terms of the Cadre Allocation Policy of 2017 and some persons, with a view to avoid some zones and cadres, had indicated a "no preference" for such zones and cadres. According to the cadre allocation policy, the candidates had to enter "99" for no preference in zones and cadres in the online form. The appeal filed in the apex court said certain candidates, who had given limited preferences, had approached the high court contending that in the instances where they had indicated "no preference", their next choice ought to have been considered for allocation. The high court, however, on May 3, quashed the cadre allocation policy of 2017 and directed the Centre to undertake fresh allocation of cadres by considering the next preference of the candidates who had indicated "no preference" for certain zones. The Centre challenged the high court order before the apex court, which partially modified the order on May 17 and gave relief to 20 trainee IAS and IPS officers after the government conceded that it would accommodate the 20 aggrieved candidates by increasing one post each in the state cadres of their preference this year. The apex court had said, "It is made clear that such accommodation is being made as an exceptional case and will not be treated as a precedent for other candidates of the same batch or in future as only these 20 persons approached the court/tribunal in time." It had also clarified that "the original cadre allocation of the other candidates shall not be disturbed". PTI MNL RKS RC

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