Politicians have reduced senior bureaucrats to non entities by reshuffling them with every change in government, be it at the center or in states. The recent example is that in UP, where an honest lady IAS officer was victimized due to pressure from sand mafia. Brashly and remorselessly a Samajwadi party politician has come out in the open to claim ‘credit’ for harassment caused to the lady SDM. Besides hatching of conspiracy to remove an honest IAS officer the biased mindset of Samajwadi Party politicians is now fully exposed when they brag to run the state without IAS officers. The incident is not only a shame on our political system but also throws a challenge to the professional class of committed bureaucrats. The politicians need to remember that the administration can be run better without having any politician.
Unholy Political and Executive Nexus
The brand of leadership upholding morality in public life has disappeared. The impeccable impartial and ‘work to rule’ style of bureaucrats has also faded into history. Today, we have a combine of self-centered politicians and spine-less officials to run the Government. Most of the public misfortunes are the result of their selfish alliance. Reduction of political interference in executive machinery and restoration of confidence of honest executives in organizational institutions is the need of the hour.
Transfers following Change of Government
Every change of Government is normally followed by mass transfers. Besides being burden on the exchequer, such premature transfers breed favoritism, anxiety and apprehensions amongst government employees. The government machinery turns dysfunctional. Arbitrary mass transfers are not restricted to top officials alone but also trickle down to the level of lower ranks such as police inspectors. Such transfers are not objectively planned. Most often these are aimed to suit the personal likes and dislikes of the political bosses of the party in power, and thus result in formation of politician – executive cliques. Mulayam Singh Yadav of Samajwadi Party and Mayawati of Bahujan Samaj Party are in lead on this issue.
Transgression of Administrative Authority
When public service commissions have been provided in the constitution to regulate the service conditions of public servants, the interference from politicians in transfers is unwarranted and against the spirit of division of power amongst the organs of state.
Further when a procedure for ensuring compliance with ministerial instructions exists, its substitution by ‘mere transfer’ should be viewed with suspicion. It implies that a person not compromising against principles is often eased out to avoid public embarrassment to the political boss.
The public perceives the functioning of the government with bureaucrats as the visible representatives. If they are changed like door mats, the faith of public in consistency of the government gets eroded.
Breeding Favoritism and Prejudices
The civil services are becoming increasingly helpless and proving unequal to the challenges posed by criminalization of politics. The bureaucratic set up has been contaminated by the virus of castes, regionalism, and favoritism and above all selfishness. Civil servants have been regionalized in their outlook and colored by castes and communal prejudices.
Unchecked Powers of Politicians
We have given upper hand to the politicians with unchecked powers and least accountability as compared to executives, who come up the ladder through careful selection based on prescribed qualifications and experience. In sharp contrast, barring few exceptions, most of our ministers are included in the cabinet due to other considerations than merit and competency.
While the members of Legislature and Judiciary enjoy certain degree of immunity in the performance and utterances, Bureaucrats have to bear the brunt individually. If nothing else, they even can be harassed through petty gimmicks like premature transfers and adverse reports, to keep them at the mercy of political bosses.
Bureaucrats to be blamed
To a great extent, the bureaucrats themselves are also to be blamed for this situation as rarely do we come across an upright honest officer to resist political nonsense. Bureaucrats and their professional bodies should get seriously get concerned about deteriorating performance and assert themselves within the frame work of rules and procedures.
Only upright, experienced and honest bureaucrats can keep the politicians under check by restricting their action to the rules. If the government servants on the other hand do not limit their area of operation the country cannot be kept safe for democracy.
When Governments formed by selfish politicians crumble and States go under Presidential rule, then it is the IAS cadres (Executives) who continue to run the administrative machinery because they are well-educated, trained, honest and motivated by rule of law. The other organs of the state, Legislature and Judiciary cannot run the country except performing their ‘limited role’. Only Executives have the capability to manage the country alone. It is only when executives fail, then only Army takes over because they are better equipped and disciplined. If Executives unite no politician can dare to ill-treat them – and certainly not those politicians who are characterless, corrupt, timid and uneducated.
Under the prevailing circumstances, the public servants have to function under instable coalition governments which become directionless due to their heterogeneous mix of political allies. There is need for judicial protection against premature and arbitrary transfers of executives if we want to insulate administrative machinery from political contamination.
One of the remedy could be to give a fixed tenure to each official where he is posted. No doubt this will come in the way of effective control and other administrative requirements to move the employee for getting better performance. Whenever a posting is to be prematurely executed, reasons for the same should be reduced to writing and also communicated to the employee concerned. If the employee has any representation to make against the premature transfer, the same should be judiciously reviewed as early as the circumstances permit. If the stand of the employee is subsequently vindicated by the court action must be taken against the person ordering malafide transfer.
Chand K Sharma
PS -Of late it is a welcome development that now Supreme Court has asked the Government to fix tenure for Bureaucrats. It is further desired that all arbitrary and premature transfers must be supported by reasons in writing failing which the authority ordering transfer should be liable for disciplinary action as well as damages and fine.
It is equally commendable step that Supreme Court has advised the Bureaucrats to obtain orders from Politicians in writing. In the absence of written orders the concerned official can record the noting by himself on the file. Both the above steps will go long way to prevent undue political interference in the Executive Function of the state.