Why in News: –
Frequent transfers of the public servants
GS-2:Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability,
GS-4: Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
- The Frequent transfers of public servants (public administrators) affect their morale and weaken better administration and Good governance.
- No matter how dedicated, innovative and efficient Civil servants may be, but solution to public administrators need a stability of tenure to govern well.
The J&K example
- Consider the case of Jammu and Kashmir.
- If the purpose of administering the region is to ensure peace and development, then it is unlikely to succeed till there is a proper transfer policy.
- As it stands presently, officers are transferred too often.
- This denies them the opportunity to settle down into an official role.
- The particular administrative locationis used as a testing lab where officers keep arriving and leaving, with a deleterious impact on officer morale, leading to a reduction in efficiency and effectiveness.
- The latter effect impacts development and governance and acts as a collective punishment to the population of that place.
- It has been a major reason for distrust, disconnect and alienation.
The Supreme Court guideline:
- T.S.R. Subramanian & Ors vs. Union of India (2013) under Article 32 of the Constitution of India has been invoked by few eminent retired civil servants highlighting the necessity of various reforms for preservation of integrity, fearlessness and independence of civil servants at the Centre and State levels in the country.
- The independent civil service boards at the centre and the states that would make recommendations on the postings and transfers of civil servants;
- Fixed tenures for civil servants, minimum tenure at list for two year.
- The formal recording of instructions/orders/directions from political authorities and legislators, among others, on what they ask civil servants to do.
The 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission:
- The Commission was set up to suggest measures to achieve a preemptive responsible, accountable, sustainable and effective administration for the country at all levels of the government.
- The Commission suggests that an independent ‘Authority’ should deal with matters of assignment of domains, preparing panels for posting of officers at the level of SAG and above, fixing tenures for various posts, deciding on posts which could be advertised for lateral entry etc.
- A Central Civil Services Authority should be constituted under the proposed Civil Services Bill. The Central Civil Services Authority shall be a five-member body consisting of the Chairperson and four members (including the member-secretary).
- To provide legislative backing to these measures, the Commission has recommended enactment of a Civil Services Law which will cover all personnel holding civil posts under the Union. The Commission recommended for the constitution of a Central Civil Service Authority
The frequent transfer:
- The frequent transfer of officials is blamed on the interference of local politicians.
- The participation of local people in governance and development is through civil servants.
- It is this participation that has been the worst affected due to the frequent transfers.
- The issue of frequent transfers is not limited to J&K, of course, but is found across India.
- The analysis of the SUPREMO (Single User Platform Related to Employees Online) database of the Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India, shows that the average posting spell of civil servants in India is only about 15 months.
- An oft-repeated argument used for transfers is that they are “in the interest of administration.” However, they essentially weaken administration.
- Transfers often reflect administrative favouritism and create divisions among civil servants.
- If they are done on a political basis, this impacts the neutrality of the civil services.
A major shortcoming:
- The undermining of transfer guidelines has been a major shortcoming of personnel administration in India.
- The Fifth Pay Commission had recommended that no premature transfer should be allowed and that there should be fixation of a minimum tenure for each post.
- The Hota Committee, which argued against frequent transfers, noted that “absence of a fixed tenure of officials is one of the most important reasons for tardy implementation of government policies,
- For lack of accountability of officers, for waste of public money because of inadequate supervision of programmes under implementation and for large-scale corruption.
Way forward: –
- The core values of the civil services — neutrality, impartiality and anonymity, cannot be maintained without an efficient transfer policy.
- The civil service is a harried instrument in government. Routine transfers and very often, irregular and illegal orders have broken its back. Honest civil servants are harassed no end.
- Even in states where civil service boards have been constituted, arbitrary transfers and postings are the norm. Random transfers—often to punish “erring” officers—are the norm, need of hours is strong law and clear transfer policy.
Have the frequent transfers of the Civil Servants has been the cause of slow change in India? Critically examine.