Transferring responsibility on transfers
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In the last 20 years, at least five government-appointed commissions and committees have pointed to the growing incidence of politicians using — or misusing — transfer as a tool to harass upright officers. The panels recommended steps, to be taken by the central and state governments, to ensure that officers who don't blindly follow the arbitrary diktats of their political masters are not victimised.
The transfer of IAS officer Ashok Khemka, whatever be the stated justification, falls foul of orders and instructions issued by the Government of India, including those issued with the concurrence of the Haryana government.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court last year in connection with a PIL by former union cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian and 82 other retired public servants seeking, among other things, fixed tenures for civil servants, the union Ministry of Personnel disclosed that 13 states had agreed to provide for a tenure of at least two years for cadre posts meant for IAS officers. Haryana was among the 13 states that agreed to the proposal, which was followed by formal notifications by the government.
The affidavit said, "Frequent and arbitrary transfers of officers before completing a reasonable and stable tenure on any post have always been considered as a major reason for the declining standards of administration."
Hopefully, a Group of Ministers, before which the matter of providing protection to civil servants is pending, will come up with an action plan to deal with the problem effectively.
Maneesh is a Sr Assistant Editor based in Delhi
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