Hapless bureaucrats

SOME top officials doubting judicious implementation of the BJP government’s transfer and posting policy was on expected lines if one takes into account of the frequent issuance of orders for shifting assignments and job stations of MCS and IAS officers. Though the officials were not daring enough to come out and state their stand unequivocally, the manner in which government officers are being literally reminded about inevitability to keep their luggage packed and be ready to move as and when told to do so indicates absence of transparency in the execution of the government’s own transfer and posting policy which was announced last year. While reshuffling of civil administrative officers as well as top echelon in the police organisation with change of governments had been the norms and seen as normal chores to synchronise administration as per the choice of any new regime, frequent transfer of top civil and security officers has been the hallmark of the present government. Top bureaucrats voicing discernment over instances of issuing transfer orders within few months or even days after deputing them in new place of posting or fresh assignment ought to naturally evoke sharp reactions for randomly reshuffling them has nothing to do with good governance. As they rightly pointed; probably hoping that venting out their grievances might compel those at the helm of affairs to prod their conscience, frequent transfer of officers will only adversely affect the administration and act as anti-dote to ambition of the government to realise transparent governance and expedite development of the state. Of the many transfer and posting orders under the new regime, recent replacement of Tengnoupal district deputy commissioner A Tombikanta raised many eyebrows as assigning him a low profile task is being viewed as a reactive move for adopting a different stand on the Indo-Myanmar border pillar issue compared to that of the state and central authorities.
In fact, it was his disclosure that present location of border pillar 81 is well inside Manipur territory which led to the huge hue and cry from civil society organisations and almost all opposition political parties active in the state. Reshuffling of officials at the level of DC mostly takes place when the public voice resentment or question his/her competency. Interestingly, Tombikanta was the only DC to be replaced when the recent order was issued. As evident from past records, transfer and posting policy was seldom implemented in the right earnest as many government employees, having connections with policy makers or influential persons lobbied to stay put at their preferred post or place. Contrastingly, officials/employees who don’t enjoy political patronage serve protractedly in remote parts of the state. At this juncture, it is noteworthy that in order to insulate the bureaucracy from political interference and to put an end to frequent transfers of civil servants by political bosses, the Supreme Court had in 2013 directed the Centre and the States to set up a Civil Services Board (CSB) for the management of transfers, postings, enquiries, process of promotion, reward, punishment and disciplinary matters. The directive, which was given while disposing of a public interest writ petition filed by former Union Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian; former CECs TS Krishnamurthy and N Gopalaswami; former Indian Ambassador to the US Abid Hussain; former CBI Director Joginder Singh; former Manipur Governor Ved Prakash Marwah and 77 others - also said bureaucrats should not act on verbal orders given by politicians and suggested a fixed tenure for them. As the apex court’s directive seems to have gone unacknowledged in the state, the bureaucrats have no other option but to remain at the beck and call of their political handlers.

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