If there is one thing that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan can definitely complain about in Maharashtra, it is the number of requests he gets from his own ilk — elected representatives or MPs, MLAs and MLCs — who flood his office with requests for transfers of government employees.
A state government reply to an application obtained under the Right To Information Act by The Indian Express revealed that in the three years from 2011, the Chief Minister’s Office received 1,833 letters — about three letters every two days — regarding transfers of government employees from 278 MLAs, MLCs and MPs.
The requests are for transfers across all major departments, especially urban development, public works, home, public health, agriculture animal husbandry & fisheries, rural development and water resources. Many letters concern transfer requests for what government officials describe as ‘lucrative positions’ — those of MSRTC drivers, RTO officials, Group Development Officers, motor vehicle inspectors at various RTOs and officials from municipal councils among others.
But for much of such badgering, Chavan can blame only his own party leaders. The data supplied under the RTI reveals that 87 of the 278 elected representatives who put in such requests were from the Congress; 60 from NCP; 45 from BJP; 32 from Shiv Sena and 54 from other parties or Independents. While two out of every three letters (1,231 out of 1,833) have been written by MLAs; MLCs and MPs have written 372 and 230 letters each respectively.
Shailesh Gandhi, a former chief information commissioner and a transparency activist, said, “This is certainly not in the spirit of law. Transfers are a purely administrative matter and the political class should refrain from getting involved. Politicians are damaging our institutions of governance. This is across all parties, but it may be that the ruling party tries to get more of its work done.”
But what leads to bunching up of such requests at the CM’s table is a legislation which is unique to the state — the Maharashtra Government Servants Regulation of Transfers and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Official Duties Act — that came into effect on July 1, 2006. This Act, which was enacted to provide stability of tenure to government employees, following Anna Hazare’s agitations, requires all government transfers to be made in April and May. Out of turn transfers in every department have to necessarily be referred to the next higher authority — the CM’s office.
Leading the pack of elected representatives is the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president and MLC Manikrao Thakre. He sent 70 letters — the highest any of the 278 politicians has written in the three-year period. There are 46 politicians, mostly MLAs, who had each sent 10 or more letters seeking transfers.
Many of Thakre’s letters, like other politicians, were addressed continued…