CCG Open Letter regarding the farmers’ agitation

11 December 2020

We are a group of former civil servants belonging to the All India and Central Services who have worked with the Central Government as well as different State Governments of India. As a group, we have no affiliation with any political party but believe in being neutral, impartial and committed to the Constitution of India.

A huge farmers’ agitation – primarily in Punjab, Haryana, U.P. and Rajasthan – to repeal three new laws has been under way for many months and has been supported by many other sectors like trade unions, student organizations, university teachers’ associations, a range of political parties and others. A Bharat Bandh was called for December 8 after several rounds of talks between farmers’ unions and the Government of India failed to yield results. We do not wish to discuss here the merits and demerits of these laws but focus on the violation of Constitutional provisions and the breakdown of democratic processes in this saga.

In keeping with the federal structure of the Constitution and the range and diversity of State-specific needs, “agriculture” is at Entry 14 in List-II in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution. The subjects in this List are within the exclusive legislative jurisdiction of the States and it has been argued convincingly that the laws passed are, therefore, unconstitutional. Unconstitutionality apart, they represent an assault upon the federal character of the Constitution: some legal experts have argued that they violate “the basic structure of the Constitution.” The passing of these laws appears to be a case of legislative legerdemain and they have been challenged in court.

            There were no consultations with farmers’ representatives before the legal process. To start with, ordinances were issued during a colossal pandemic which deserved undiluted attention. When the Bills were introduced in Parliament in September, 2020, the demand to send them to Parliamentary Committees was denied. It is pertinent to point out that according to a newspaper report of September 2020, in recent times, the percentage of Bills scrutinized by Parliamentary Select Committees rose from 60% during UPA I (14th Lok Sabha) to a high of 71% during UPA II (15th Lok Sabha) but fell to 25% in NDA I (16th Lok Sabha). In the current Lok Sabha, very few Bills have been sent to Parliamentary Committees.

            Time was not given to debate the Bills and they were railroaded through Parliament; the demand for a division in the Rajya Sabha was not accepted and a voice vote was held amid tumult and confusion, leading to suspicions about the procedure employed. At the same time, some labour laws were passed during a walk-out by the Opposition. The question has been raised pointedly: was this done in the belief that during a pandemic and the restrictions on public gatherings, organized protest would not be possible?

            The undermining of democratic processes and the total disregard for public consultation and convenience has been evident in the ways in which Article 370 was repealed, demonetization was implemented without warning or preparation, the Citizenship Amendment Act was brought in and a lockdown ordered with hardly any notice, resulting in untold suffering for millions of migrant workers. What is noteworthy and common to all these actions was a refusal to consult the people affected beforehand and a determination to not hold a dialogue afterwards. The facile option of labelling all those who disagree with one or other of the actions of the government as “anti-national”, “pro-Pakistani,“ “award-vapasi gang”, “urban Naxals” and “Khan Market gang” is chosen to avoid substantive discussion and debate, the very heart of the democratic process, and to vilify and criminalize dissent.

            It is a measure of their discontent that farmers in lakhs are braving the winter cold as also the risks of Covid-19. The farmers’ agitation has been peaceful and in exercise of their Constitutional and democratic right to protest. Yet, they were greeted by teargas and water cannons as they tried to reach Delhi and highways in Haryana were dug up to impede their onward march. It is difficult to label these protests as instigated by political parties or Khalistanis when the farmers explicitly keep political parties at bay and a senior SAD leader, once a part of the ruling alliance of NDA, returns his Padma Vibhushan award.

            The protests have spread across many States and are being supported by several other groups even though a largely complicit media refuses to report their true magnitude and reach.  In our capacity as former civil servants who stand up for Constitutional freedoms, we would like to emphasize our support for the democratic and Constitutional right of peaceful protest being exercised by farmers and others. It is time that the ruling dispensation listens carefully to the demands being made and demonstrates its respect for democratic traditions, procedures and practices by engaging in dialogue inside and outside Parliament.


(78 signatories, as below)


S.R. Adige

IAS (Retd.)

Former Vice Chairman, Central Administrative Tribunal


Salahuddin Ahmad

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan


Shafi Alam

IPS (Retd.)

Former Director General, National Crime Records Bureau, GoI


K. Saleem Ali

IPS (Retd.)

Former Special Director, CBI, GoI


S.P. Ambrose

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI


G. Balachandhran

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal


Vappala Balachandran

IPS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI


Gopalan Balagopal

IAS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal


Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Coal, GoI


T.K. Banerji

IAS (Retd.)

Former Member, Union Public Service Commission


Sharad Behar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh


Aurobindo Behera

IAS (Retd.)

Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Odisha


Madhu Bhaduri

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Portugal


Ravi Budhiraja

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, GoI


Sundar Burra

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra


Rachel Chatterjee

IAS (Retd.)

Former Special Chief Secretary, Agriculture, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh


Kalyani Chaudhuri

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal


Vibha Puri Das

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI


P.R. Dasgupta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, GoI


Pradeep K. Deb

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Deptt. Of Sports, GoI


Nitin Desai

IES (Retd.)

Former Secretary and Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, GoI


Keshav Desiraju

IAS (Retd.)

Former Health Secretary, GoI


M.G. Devasahayam

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana


Arif Ghauri

IRS (Retd.)

Former Governance Adviser, DFID, Govt. of the United Kingdom (on deputation)


Suresh K. Goel

IFS (Retd.)

Former Director General, Indian Council of Cultural Relations, GoI


S.K. Guha

IAS (Retd.)

Former Joint Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development, GoI


H.S. Gujral

IFoS (Retd.)

Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Govt. of Punjab


Meena Gupta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI


Wajahat Habibullah

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, GoI and Chief Information Commissioner


Rahul Khullar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India


Brijesh Kumar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI


Sudhir Kumar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Member, Central Administrative Tribunal


P.K. Lahiri

IAS (Retd.)

Former ED, Asian Development Bank & Former Revenue Secretary, GoI


Subodh Lal

IPoS (Resigned)

Former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Communications, GoI


P.M.S. Malik

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Myanmar & Special Secretary, MEA, GoI


Harsh Mander

IAS (Retd.)

Govt. of Madhya Pradesh


Amitabh Mathur

IPS (Retd.)

Former Director, Aviation Research Centre and Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI


Lalit Mathur

IAS (Retd.)

Former Director General, National Institute of Rural Development, GoI


Aditi Mehta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan


Sonalini Mirchandani

IFS (Resigned)



Sunil Mitra

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI


Avinash Mohananey

IPS (Retd.)

Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Sikkim


Deb Mukharji

IFS (Retd.)

Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal



IA&AS (Retd.)

Former Principal Accountant General, Tamil Nadu & Kerala


P.G.J. Nampoothiri

IPS (Retd.)

Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Gujarat


Surendra Nath

IAS (Retd.)

Former Member, Finance Commission, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh


P. Joy Oommen

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Chhattisgarh


Amitabha Pande

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI


Mira Pande

IAS (Retd.)

Former State Election Commissioner, West Bengal


R. Poornalingam

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, GoI


R.M. Premkumar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra


T.R. Raghunandan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI


V.P. Raja

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission


K. Sujatha Rao

IAS (Retd.)

Former Health Secretary, GoI


Satwant Reddy

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, GoI


Vijaya Latha Reddy

IFS (Retd.)

Former Deputy National Security Adviser, GoI


Julio Ribeiro

IPS (Retd.)

Former Adviser to Governor of Punjab & former Ambassador to Romania


Aruna Roy

IAS (Resigned)



Manabendra N. Roy

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal


A.K. Samanta

IPS (Retd.)

Former Director General of Police (Intelligence), Govt. of West Bengal


Deepak Sanan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh


G. Sankaran

IC&CES (Retd.)

Former President, Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal 


N.C. Saxena

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI


A. Selvaraj

IRS (Retd.)

Former Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Chennai, GoI


Abhijit Sengupta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI


Ashok Kumar Sharma

IFoS (Retd.)

Former MD, State Forest Development Corporation, Govt. of Gujarat


Ashok Kumar Sharma

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia


Navrekha Sharma

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Indonesia


Raju Sharma

IAS (Retd.)

Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh


Sujatha Singh

IFS (Retd.)

Former Foreign Secretary, GoI


Tirlochan Singh

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, National Commission for Minorities, GoI


Jawhar Sircar


IAS (Retd.)


Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI, & former CEO, Prasar Bharati


Thanksy Thekkekera

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Minorities Development, Govt. of Maharashtra


P.S.S. Thomas

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission


Hindal Tyabji

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary rank, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir


Jawed Usmani

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh & Former Chief Information Commissioner, Uttar Pradesh


Ashok Vajpeyi

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi


Ramani Venkatesan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. of Maharashtra


7 thoughts on “CCG Open Letter regarding the farmers’ agitation

  1. . Lord (Indarjit) Singh of Wimbledon UK

    Thank you for your informed and constructive intervention on the systematic erosion of democratic norms in India.


  2. In poor test. Signatories have all enjoyed the perks & previlages in service and now are baying b,cos they have lost relevance. Why did previous govts also talk of ammending the Farm laws?. Study pros & cons please.


    1. GSSIDHU

      It is encouraging that retired civil servants are standing up as defenders of the Constitution and trying to uphold the fast eroding moral values in Indian society , administrative and political systems.


  3. Harsh Mohan Singh

    Appreciate the concern you all have shown, but fail to understand why this spine develops after retirement only?
    We cant shy away from the fact that afterall, it is the big AIS babus only who man key positions in any govt., draft policies and implement them …….
    Why cant they say NO to a wrong thing?
    You people couldn’t even save the subsistence allowance called pension for a retired govt. employee/official who joined service after 2004 whereas every politician has the luxury of having multiple pensions.
    To me, AIS itself is a malady where people are groomed to be ostriches who cant see even their feet.


  4. Harbans Singh

    The question remains – intelligent with no responsibility. While responsible worked like a donkey. Sorry for this word.
    I am a CA by qualification and have worked in Bank in private sector later nationalised, practised as CA and worked for NGO – much maligned sector.
    I can only say that I never received any personal benefit nor provided any inducement during my 37 years. It was a difficult life but no regrets. Only feeling happy and contended.
    This is being mentioned to register the requirement to act rightly and justifiably when on a seat. Talking later does not make much difference unless you were bold enough not to undertake and execute any wrong order.


    1. GSSIDHU

      It is encouraging that retired civil servants are standing up as defenders of the Constitution and trying to uphold the fast eroding moral values in Indian society , administrative and political systems.


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