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Ministry of Law opens key post to public

NewsMinistry of Law opens key post to public

The Ministry of Law & Justice has for the first time invited applications for filling the post of Secretary in the ministry from the public, including from judges, advocates and law officers working in private firms. This is in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda of bringing in talent from outside the government to give a fillip to governance. The maximum age limit for the applicant has been kept at 57 years, so that the person who is finally selected is able to work for at least three years, until the age of 60. The pay scale for the post will be as per the apex scale of Government of India, which is Rs 80,000 as basic.

Officials familiar with the development said that earlier, only officers from the Indian Legal Service were eligible for this post, and the appointment was done on the basis of seniority. But with the government asking the general public to apply for the post, it’s for the first time that people from other fields such as judges, advocates and individuals working in private law firms would also become eligible for the post.

To make sure that quality applications are received, a very “high-level” of minimum professional experience has been set for the post. Advocates, who have practised for at least 25 years in the Supreme Court and High Court and have at least 25 recorded judgements in their name, are eligible to apply. Similarly, a minimum of 25 years of work experience has been made mandatory for individuals who are working in private law firms and public sector organisations. Only a law graduate is eligible to apply for the above post.

This is not for the first time that the Modi government, which has been pushing for “lateral entry” amidst resistance from bureaucrats, has sought applications for a government post from private individuals. Earlier, last year in July, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had invited applications for the post of research assistants for its policy planning and research division.

Similarly, Jharkhand, which also has a BJP government, had in February invited applications from professional experts and individuals for appointing them in the post of special secretaries in various departments.

According to officials, the idea behind pushing for “lateral entry” and bringing in outsiders was to infuse “new ideas” into the ways the government machinery works. However, this move by the Narendra Modi government, as expected, is causing a lot of heartburn among bureaucrats cutting across ministries as they are feeling threatened by the prospect of having to work with/under these specialists.

The government is planning to make more such appointments in various other ministries. This is likely to face stiff resistance from the babus.

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