Punjab government notifying Civil Services Board providing for fixed tenure of IAS officers has left Congress leaders in the state upset. The Indian Express explains the board and the resistance to its notification:
What is the Civil Services Board (CSB)?
As per a state government notification dated June 2, CSB will be headed by Chief Secretary, with Personnel Secretary, and either Financial Commissioner (Revenue) or Home Secretary (who so ever is senior in the pecking order) as its members. The board provides for the state to follow Centre’s guidelines on giving a fixed tenure of at least two years for cadre officers. They cannot be transferred before that and if anyone recommends their transfer then the board will examine and effect it. The final authority is the Chief Minister.
Why had previous government in the state declined to follow Centre’s guidelines?
Previous government led by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had refused to follow the guidelines on the argument that appointment and transfer of IAS officers are a prerogative of the state. If their term is fixed, it had argued, it will not only create functional and administrative problems, but also overstep the authority and jurisdiction of the state government.
The political leadership of ruling party in the state has usually always had a say in postings and transfers of district officials in the state. Akalis have been known to lend supremacy to its leadership over bureaucrats in the state. But ever since Congress government has taken over, the grouse of its leaders has been that they do not get a due respect in their own regime. The district officials allegedly make them wait and do not listen to them while Akalis were still getting the respect and honour from these officials. This has led to several confrontations in the past. With the fixed tenure rule and Chief Secretary’s board having all power to examine a recommendation for a transfer, the leaders feel their influence has been reduced to a naught and all power handed to the CS.
How do they see the board to be lending officers supremacy over them?
If any officer is to be transferred before completing his minimum tenure, the board will record the reasons for the transfer, will seek views from the concerned officer and then give a judgement on whether the tenure of the officer is to be ended mid-way. The final authority will be the CM.
What is the government’s argument in its favour?
It says if the officials have a fixed tenure they will be able to provide better administration. They will also feel safe and try to stick to the rules instead of pleasing political bosses. It says every official requires 3-6 months to get into the groove at his new place of posting. If he stays there for two years, it would mean better delivery and stable tenure to people.
What do the officials say?
They feel the rules will not be followed in letter and spirit unless a few officers go to the courts and ensure that the guidelines are followed. They say that neighbouring Haryana had the board in place but the guidelines were not followed.
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