Gautam Datt | MAIL TODAY | New Delhi, October 25, 2012
Dozens of top scientists at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are working on extended tenures despite the government disfavouring the policy of retaining officers or specialists after their retirement.
According to guidelines, tenures can be extended only in “exceptional circumstances”. The DRDO, however, justifies the extensions, saying only valued experts whose replacements are not easy to find are given the privilege.
In response to an RTI query, sought by Rajeev Chauhan of Meerut, the DRDO released a list of 37 scientists – 12 of them in the distinguished category – who are working on extended tenures. This was disclosed only after the intervention of the chief information commissioner following an appeal.
Defence scientists retire at the age of 60. The department of personnel and training (DoPT) rules for extension of specialists in the medical and scientific fields mention the problems in giving such experts extra tenure.
“Not only does the next man miss promotion but often several people miss consequential promotions all along the hierarchy,” the department noted.
Keeping this in mind, procedures were evolved to ensure that extensions to the superannuating scientists are resorted to only in really exceptional circumstances, the guidelines said.
The main conditions are that the “retiring specialist should not just be one of the outstanding officers but is really head and shoulders above the rest, or the other specialists are not ripe enough to take over the job”. The DRDO, however, claims that while it largely adheres to the DoPT rules, they are not strictly applicable to the strategic community which also includes ISRO and atomic energy.
Sources said the DRDO has 7,000 scientists out of which extension to 37-odd experts is “minuscule”. The DRDO follows merit- based flexible complementing scheme for promotions which is not linked to availability of vacancies, they said. They feel that most people at 60 are still active and gain substantial wealth of experience in highly specialised areas that needs to be tapped.
Some big names are on extended terms and are vital to the success of their respective programmes.
Topping the list is Avinash Chander, chief controller of missiles and strategic system, who is steering the long range strategic missiles programme.
The list of 37 scientists includes 12 distinguished scientists, 13 scientists âHâ and remaining 12 scientists “G”. While detractors allege that extensions indicate a system of favouritism, the DRDO says every case passes through two expert panels which approve the move.
According to govt guidelines, tenures can be extended only in exceptional circumstances.