A. Estimates Committee of Lok Sabha
Estimate committee of 2nd Lok Sabha under the chairmanship of Smt Sucheta Kriplani carried out first study on MES in 1957 & suggested complete civilianization but this recommendation was not accepted. Another study was undertaken by estimates committee of 7th Lok Sabha in 1982, which made following important recommendations:
(a) Recommendation No 74: –
Senior Army officers posted to MES should have adequate experience in MES at the level of AGE/GE. MOD had assured the committee vide OM no 17C (1)/82/D(works II) dt 1.02.1983 that the issue of guidelines on posting of Corps of Engineers to MES is under consideration. These guidelines have still not been issued in spite of provision made in Para 12 of Statuary rules IDSE vide SRO 95.
(b) Recommendation Nos 75, 77 and 78:-
The committee had observed and accepted by MOD that there is great frustration amongst civilian officers. The committee also observed that since 1947 when civilian service was constituted, its cadre management remained neglected and MOD has not done enough to rectify this sorry state of affairs. It was also recommended and accepted by MOD that through a series of cadre reviews promotional opportunities of civilian officers in MES should be brought at par with CPWD and Railways. The committee went to the extent of observing that civilian officers are not getting their dues and would like MOD to go into the matter. (MOD OM No 8(C1)/81/D/(civil) of 26 July 1982 and OM No17(1)/82/D(Wks II) of 15 Oct 1982 refers). During last 30 years, thereafter, the situation has only worsened.
(c) Recommendation No 86:-
The committee had proposed that MOD should have some institutional arrangement to have across the table dialogue with civilian officers. In their OM of 15 Oct 1982, although the Ministry stated that regular meetings are held where both military and civilian officers are present to discuss cadre management but practically no such meetings has ever been held.
B. Fifth Pay Commission
Fifth Pay Commission asked for detailed presentation on structure of MES from MOD, but that job was given to E-in-C. After due deliberation the following recommendations were made by the commission:
Para 33.15 and33.16:
Service personnel from MES should be withdrawn as an economy measure and also to make up deficiency of Army Units. Para50.102 and Para50.103:
(i) Civilian HAG level officer be designated as DG and Army Maj Gen be designated as Jt DG.
(ii) Head of MES should be a Civilian officer.
Complete Civilianization of MES be set as a long time objective as is the trend World over.
C. V S Jafa Committee
In order to nullify the recommendation of V CPC, E-in-C prevailed upon COAS, who is not in the chain of command of MES, to appoint 30 member committee of Service officers in the year 2000 under GOC-in-C of Central Command. Fortunately, MOD did not take cognizance of this one sided report but in the year 2001, appointed a Committee under the chairmanship of Shri V.S.Jafa a retired civil servant. Here, again, one of the two members that was to be appointed by COAS was taken from Corps of Engineers and in turn the committee out sourced the drafting of its report to a retired Maj Gen of Corps of Engineers by inducting him as Chief Adviser. No representative of civilian officers was taken on the committee. Being dominated by officers of Corps of Engineers, the committee side stepped the main issue of civilianization of MES. It wanted to retain the supremacy of Corps of Engineers but at the same time was convinced that civilian officers are being unfairly treated. This consideration made them to recommend an impracticable proposal that there should be two type of relative seniority between civilian and Army officers i.e. Functional and Protocol. It recommended that functional seniority of Corps of Engineer officers to be retained. (Para 16 of chapter 3 refers). At the same time the committee made following recommendation to boost the morale of civilian officers: -
The procedure for initiating preliminary inquiries for alleged irregularities should be same for Army and civilian officers and must be equable, forthright and unequivocal. MES regulation may be amended to include this provision. Further action on officers found guilt could take place under Army Act or Civil Service rules as the case may be.
In 2001 based on suggestion made by IDSE association, MOD had proposed that Para 101 of RMES be amended to include such provision. However, E.in.C, obviously to shield Army officers through Court of Inquiries, did not agree to this
(Chapter13 Para 16 &17 refers).
The proportion of higher appointments is tilted in favour of Army officers and distribution of post of Chief Engineer and above between Army and Civilian officers be made in ratio of their number (chapter 14 Para 15). Presently, there are 4 HAG and 41 SAG level engineer cadre civilian officers against 1 HAG (additional charge) and 9 SAG (6 additional charge) level army officers while only 1 out of 10 senior most MES appointments is held by a civilian officer.
The committee recommended creation or post of DG (Projects) to be manned by HAG civilian officer who is presently posted as ADG DRDO as the later post need to be abolished due to inadequate load. (Chapter 1 Para 38, 39 & 48). Instead of accepting this recommendation a post of DG (MAP) that is identical to a DG (Project) was created and handed over to a SAG level army officer.
ACRs of civilian officers should be endorsed only at two levels in MES chain of command to avoid undue pressure from user formations. This recommendation is in with policy of DOPT but no action has been taken, so far, to implement it because section dealing with ACRs of civilian officers is controlled by Army officers.
However, Ministry of Defence has now taken a considered view of Jafa Committee recommendations and have approved most of its recommendations for the growth of the department. The approval was accorded vide MoD OM No. 17/1/2002-Works II dated 10th Feb 2016
but its implementation is still to see light of the day.
Historically, there have been several recommendations by various Committees/MOD in favour of civilian officers which could relieve them from large scale discrimination, but vested interest of E-in-C and other officers of Corps of Engineers is preventing there implementation. The fact is that ‘A Committee / MOD proposes and E-in-C disposes.’