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Transfer of officials by new government a 'vicious circle': SC
Thursday July 11, 2013 8:33 PM, IANS

The Supreme Court Thursday said the transfer of bureaucrats and police officials with a change in government was a "vicious circle" that did not bode well for good administration.

The apex court bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose was hearing a public interest litigation filed by a group of former bureaucrats and police officials seeking the setting up of independent civil service board/commission by the central and state governments for transfers and postings with fixed tenure for stability in administration.

"It is a vicious circle," the court said in an oral observation, when senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the petitioners, said there were large scale transfers of officials on poll-eve so that pliable officials were posted at key positions.

As Justice Ghose observed that bureaucrats should remain neutral, Venugopal said gradually they learn that they should not get close to political parties.

Referring to the suggestion to create a panel for coordinating the transfers, Venugopal said the political arm of the executive was not inclined to loosen its grip over the administration.

Justice Radhakrishnan observed: "They are apprehensive that if a civil service board (CSB) is created then they will lose their powers."

Venugopal took the court through the responses of state governments on the setting of the CSB for the fixed term posting, transfer and promotion of the civil servants.

Drawing the attention of the court to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and other state governments' aversion to setting up a CSB, Venugopal said: "It is a complete negation of democratic functioning of the state and it was feudal way of running the state."

Gujarat in its response said: "If the entire process of transfer of civil servants is shifted to civil service board/commission, the political executive of the state will be weakened ... passing on of such powers to bureaucrats will have other ramifications."

Madhya Pradesh said: "In a democratic system, the final authority to order transfer of any officer should lie with highest political authority" and "the proposed civil service board will create a supreme authority above the political executive which would run contrary to constitutional provisions."

Haryana and Rajasthan echoed similar views.

The petition has also sought direction that every civil servant should record all instructions, directions or orders received from political authorities.

Assailing the response from the state governments, Venugopal said that the civil servants were the backbone of the administration and they needed to be protected from political arm twisting.

The senior counsel said the mandate of the people could not be stretched to mean that the political executive had the powers to remove civil servants arbitrarily.

Another counsel for the petitioners Ashok Dhamija said the CSB should not only be independent but effective also.

Dhamija said government guidelines on the promotion of civil servants and Indian Police Service officers barred any officer facing disciplinary proceedings, criminal proceedings or charged in a court of law from being considered for promotion.

Additional Solicitor General Paras Kuhad will address the court on behalf of the government in the next hearing July 23.

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