The first major lateral entry into the government for top jobs has caused unease as questions are being raised about the choice of some of the candidates by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
Sujit Kumar Bajpayee's appointment as joint secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has raised eyebrows because as a senior manager in public sector power generator NHPC, he is too junior for the key decision-making post in the government.
Bajpayee is the younger brother of veteran movie star Manoj Bajpayee.
Selection of Amber Dubey, partner with consultancy firm KPMG, as joint secretary in Civil Aviation Ministry, has also caused unease because of his possible conflict of interest as he has been advising many private companies in the aviation space including airport major GMR Infrastructure and full-service carrier Vistara.
Some senior IAS officers told IANS that that hiring domain experts as joint secretaries is a welcome move, but expressed surprise at the appointment of Bajpayee, a junior officer in a PSU, in the elite club.
An officer said that a Secretary in the Central government department records the annual confidential report (ACR) of PSU chiefs but joint secretary effectively manages the show.
"As per Mr Bajpayee's bio-data, he joined NHPC in 2001. It has to be seen if all the Group A officers who entered all India service through UPSC in the same year have become joint secretary. And, whether he was an exceptional professional and given promotions? If not, then it is even more worrying," said a secretary-level officer.
"Even if 2001-batch IAS officers have become joint secretary, it has to be seen whether all revenue service or railway traffic service officers have been impanelled as joint secretary," he noted.
An NHPC official, however, explained how Bajpayee qualifies for the job as he has gained requisite experience over the years moving from E1 (grade) level to E7 level.
"Over the years an assistant manager gets promoted to E6 level, but promotion to E7 level depends on vacancy in the organization. The fact that he was promoted to E7 proves that he is well qualified and outstanding," he said.
When contacted Bajpayee refused to comment.
Another senior IAS officer also pointed fingers at the selection process, saying the issue of conflict of interest is set to come in case of consultants who earlier advised corporate houses and pitched for favourable change in policy but would now become joint secretary in the ministry.