New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) could soon recommend to the central government a cooling-off period for IAS, IPS and other All India Service (AIS) officers who have recently retired or resigned and are looking to take the political leap, ThePrint has learnt.
According to highly placed sources in the EC, the poll body began to consider the idea after former Bihar Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey quit the IPS in September and joined the Janata Dal (United), weeks before the assembly elections.
While Pandey did not eventually get a ticket from the JD(U) to contest the polls, he joined Bihar’s ruling party just five days after resigning from service, raising eyebrows.
The EC, the sources said, believes a cooling-off period should exist for AIS officers seeking to join politics, just as it does for those seeking corporate jobs.
Officers seeking private employment after their service need to wait a year after their retirement/resignation. The period used to be two years until 2015.
“We have begun to deliberate on this issue since it is highly inappropriate for officers to take the electoral plunge just before polls,” said a senior EC official. The commission is yet to work out the modalities of how long this cooling-off period should be, the official added.
Talking about Pandey’s resignation, the official said, “The commission took note of all that transpired, and feels that some rules should be there to stop this practice.”
‘Scope for conflict of interest’
In 2018, a year before the last Lok Sabha polls, ThePrint had reported about IAS and IPS officers who had quit the service to join politics, and how the practice leaves scope for conflict of interest.
In 2012, the EC had recommended to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and the Union Law Ministry that recently-retired or resigned IAS, IPS and AIS officers be kept away from electoral politics for two years.
The proposal was, however, rejected by the government, which argued that disallowing former civil servants from immediately joining politics could violate their right to equality enshrined in the Constitution.
The EC, sources said, could now revive the older proposal.