A view of the Namakkal Kavignar Maaligai in Chennai .  

Vacancies delay disposal of files at Secretariat

State government decides to implement ‘level-jumping system’


With a large number of Under-Secretary posts remaining vacant in various government departments and the resultant delay in the clearance of files at the Secretariat, the State government has decided to implement a ‘level-jumping system’ where important files will now go directly to senior officers.

A total of 133 Under-Secretary posts of the total sanctioned strength of 218 has not been filled due to the status quo ordered by the Madras High Court in a case relating to the fixation of seniority between direct-recruit Assistants and typist-promotee Assistants. The litigation has been going on since 2010, said officials. “Due to the non-filling of these posts, the existing Under-Secretaries are entrusted to look after more sections, resulting in a delay in disposal of files,” said a communication from Personnel and Administrative Reforms Department Secretary S. Swarna on Saturday. The Hindu has a copy of the communication sent to all Secretaries.

The communication also requested all Department Secretaries “to identify the subjects for level jumping and issue orders accordingly in the request of your departments as per para 78 of the Tamil Nadu Secretariat Office Manual (SOM). Para 78 of the SOM states that the Secretary is the official head of his/her department and that it is his/her duty to take efficient steps for the prompt despatch of business in his/her department.”

Under-Secretaries are placed above Section Officers, Assistant Section Officers and Assistants, and are placed below Secretaries, Special Secretaries, Additional Secretaries, Joint Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries.

Supervising sections

Functions of the Under-Secretary are to control and supervise the sections placed under his/her charge, instruct them how to deal with papers and to check delay, superfluous noting and prolixity of language, whether in notes or drafts and enforce the rigid observance of all rules. Under-Secretaries may pass final orders approving proposals, which are of a routine nature or require only the formal sanction of the government, according to the manual.

The Hindu had on March 9 reported that about half the post of Under-Secretaries in various departments at the Secretariat were vacant.

While pending litigation in the Madras High Court has often been cited as a reason behind the delay in appointing the Under-Secretaries, a section of the staff point out that appointment orders have previously been issued, promoting staff to the post with a caveat that it will be subject to the outcome of the litigation.