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Cooling off period and its need in Civil Services

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    17th May, 2022

Overview

  • What is the cooling-off period?
  • What does “post-retirement commercial employment” mean?
    • What does Expression covers?
  •  When does a government allow or turn down such requests from pensioners?
  • What about government servants joining politics after retirement? 

Context

The cooling off period before joining post-retirement job is necessary for increasing the accountability and efficiency of the person after years of continuous services.

Background

What is the cooling-off period?

  • Cooling-off period is the length of time for which a retired civil servant is prohibited from accepting commercial employment.
  • Post-retirement commercial employment for the three All India Services (IAS, Indian Police Service, and Indian Forest Service) is covered under the AIS Death-cum-Benefits Rules, and for the Central Civil Services under the CCS (Pension) Rules.
    • Rule 26 of the AIS Death-cum-Benefits Rules similarly restricts a pensioner from commercial employment for one year after retirement, except with government sanction.
    • Rule 9 of the CCS (Pension) Rules states that “if a pensioner who, immediately before his retirement was a member of Central Service Group ‘A’ wishes to accept any commercial employment before the expiry of one year from the date of his retirement, he shall obtain the previous sanction of the Government to such acceptance”.

The cooling-off period was two years until January 2007, when the government reduced it to one year by an amendment.

  • Non-compliance with these rules can lead to the government declaring that the employee “shall not be entitled to the whole or such part of the pension and for such period as may be specified”.

What does “post-retirement commercial employment” mean?

The expression covers:

  • Employment in any capacity including that of an agent, under a company, co-operative society, firm or individual engaged in trading or business but this does not include employment under a body corporate, wholly or substantially owned or controlled by the Central Government or a State Government
  • Setting up practice, either independently or as a partner of a firm, as adviser or consultant in certain matters specified under the rules, including matters that are relatable to the pensioner’s official knowledge or experience.

When does a government allow or turn down such requests from pensioners?

The CCS (Pension) Rules specify several factors for the government to consider while granting or refusing permission,

These include:

  • Whether a “no-objection” for the proposed employment has been obtained from the cadre controlling authority and from the office where the officer retired;
  • Whether the officer has been privy to sensitive or strategic information in the last three years of service that is directly related to the work of the organisation he proposes to join;
  • Whether there is conflict of interest between the policies of the office he has held in the last three years and the interests/work of this organisation;
  • Whether this organisation has been in conflict with or prejudicial to India’s foreign relations, national security and domestic harmony; and
  • Whether the organisation he proposes to join is undertaking any activity for intelligence gathering.

According to these rules, “conflict of interest” does not include normal economic competition with the government or its undertakings”.

What about government servants joining politics after retirement?

  • While in service, the Conduct Rules bar government servants from being associated with any political party or organisation, and from taking part in or assisting any political activity.
  • There is no rule, however, to stop government servants from joining politics after retirement.

Practice Question

Q1. Post-retirement appointments in Judiciary undermine the doctrine of Separation of powers. Discuss.

Q2. Immediate joining of politics by civil servants after retirement raises the question of political patronage and non-partisanship. Critically Examine.

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