Inter-Services Intelligence to screen all the government officials

The prime minister’s office in a notification issued on Friday has officially tasked the national premier spy agency to screen all the civil servants before their postings, appointments, inductions and promotions.

The government has given the legal right to Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), to do this practice that was already in place in some departments or postings but with this, it was a broad approach now.

According to the Estab­lishment Division notification: “In exercise of powers conferred by sub-section 1 of section 25 of the Civil Servants Act 1973 […] read with notification No. SRO 120 (1)/1998 […] the Prime Minister is pleased to notify Directorate General Inter-Services Intel­ligence (ISI)

as [the] Special Vetting Agency (SVA) for verification and screening of all Public Office Holders (Officers Category) …”.

According to media reports, this practice was already been done by the ISI and Intelligence Bureau when it came to some specific posts or appointments.

Meanwhile, the prime minister has the power to amend or make rules for the bureaucracy, but it would have been better if the Establishment Division would have issued a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) to amend the Appointments, Promotions and Transfer (APT) Rules governing the civil bureaucracy if it wanted to give the ISI formal charge of the vetting process.

According to a former bureaucrat, unless the rules are amended, a mere notification will not legitimise the agency’s report and it cannot be used as a valid document during judicial scrutiny.