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To ringfence babus from netas, a bold new civil service law in the making

Posted by ekavi on September 2, 2006

To ringfence babus from netas,


a bold new civil service law in the making

 

G. Ananthakrishnan

 

Posted online: Tuesday, August 29, 2006 at 0000 hrs IST

NEW DELHI, AUGust 28
A strict, enforceable code of conduct that measures efficiency in tangible terms, rewards and punishes, a transparent system of transfers, the power to stand up and say no to a superior if his order violates the code, insulating the officer from political interference and protecting whistleblowers. These are among the sweeping reforms suggested in what could be the first attempt to ensure, legally at least, a merit-based and an apolitical bureaucracy.

The Department of Personnel and Training has drawn up a draft Public Services Bill, 2006, and sent it to the Administrative Reforms Commission for its suggestions. The new law, when passed, will be applicable to the IAS, IPS, IFS and all Central services.

According to the draft, obtained by The Indian Express, a “Public Service Code” will be drawn up by the Government in consultation with a Central authority within a year of the law coming into effect.

This code will specify, in concrete terms, the dos and don’ts for public servants to work “with due regard to diversity…without discrimination of caste, community, religion, gender or class.” It will establish a mechanism to monitor performance and efficiency.

“The interface between the political executive and public service will be clearly established (by the Code) based on the principles of political neutrality, professional excellence and integrity,” says the draft.

Any breach would incur punishment ranging from a reprimand, a reduction in classification or salary to termination of service.

The author of the code, the Central Authority, which will play a pivotal role under the Act, will remain free of political interference.

Chairperson and members of the Authority shall be appointed by the President on the recommendations of a Committee comprising of the Prime Minister, a Supreme Court judge and the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

The Chairperson and members will, however, not be MPs or MLAs or hold any office with any political party.

Another major feature of the law is the stress on a merit-based public service. To achieve this, according to the draft, a Performance Management System will be drawn up for all employees under which there will be performance indicators and measurement of the outcome and impact with regard to development priorities.

Grades under this will be taken into account in matters of budget allocation to the departments and other entitlements.

There is also a provision to address the civil servants’ concern about the stability of service. For this, the bill calls on the Central Authority to ensure that “transfers and postings of public servants are undertaken in a fair and objective manner and that the tenure of the Public Servant in a post is appropriately determined and is maintained consistent with the need to maintain continuity and the requirements of good governance.”

It even goes to the extent of giving a public servant the freedom to decide whether he or she should or not carry out an order of a superior, if such an order is against the Code.

In such case, the Central Authority will give the officer the opportunity to raise the issue at an appropriate forum without fear of victimisation.

The draft Bill also calls on the government to put in place a scheme to protect whistleblower public servants in the system, who report suspected improper governance and actions in their workplace.

Meanwhile, the Administrative Reforms Commission has shot off queries to the representatives of society and civil servants on the draft Bill. Going a step ahead, the ARC wants to answer questions like whether only career-based civil servants were always best suited to occupy top governmental positions or whether there could be lateral entry.

Carrying forward the question of merit, it has also sought to know if system of weeding out as existing in the armed forces could be extended to civil services too. Though the ARC was to give its report by August end, sources said this was unlikely as many states had not yet responded.

http://www.indianexpress.com/printerFriendly/11612.html
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4 Responses to “To ringfence babus from netas, a bold new civil service law in the making”

  1. vikramsimha said

    We Find that due to Dilly Dallying Tactics and Wontenly , A Large Number of PIO’s are being Directed to Provide Info to RTI Requesters Free of Charge.
    Such PIO’s Should be Reprimanded By their Immediate Superiors and The Loss to Exchequre must be Recovered From their Salaries .
    I am Aware of Two Instances where the Info Free of Cost has been Sent By RPAD by Affixing Postal Stamps of Amounts of Rs 225/- And Rs 535/-

  2. Dhirendra Krishna said

    The code for civil servants should also make it obligatory for them to take all possible measures (within their sphere of duty)to promote the RTI Active.

    Pro-active measures to implement RTI Act should be mentioned in their Annual Confidential Report, as it is indicative of their positive approach towards democratic governance and also their desire to improve the administrative processes to make governance responsive to the citizens. RTI calls for systemic reforms to enhance public accountability and for removing the abberations; officials need encouragement in their efforts in this direction.

    Any negative measures taken by them to stall RTI Act should result in an adverse comment in the ACR. Any one who retains colonial attitude of bossing over the public instead of working like “civil servant” deserves to be eased out from his job.

    DOPT should issue instructions in this regard, which may be given wide publicity, including mention in their web site. At present, there is no indication from the Government which encourages pro-RTI sentiment amongst the Government servants. On the contrary and unfortunately, DOPT is seen as adversory to RTI implementation,in view of the stumbling blocks created by them by proposed changes in RTI Act and deliberate mistake in their web site {excluding file notings from the definition of “information”.}

    Not enough is being done to encourage atitudinal changes in the official machinery, who regards RTI activist as an adversory.

  3. […] Dhirendra Krishna Says: September 3rd, 2006 at 6:14 am e The code for civil servants should also make it obligatory for them to take all possible measures (within their sphere of duty)to promote the RTI Active. […]

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