Supreme Court directs Centre and State Governments to an pass order within 3 months to fix tenure of civil servants

In a ruling that would affect the functioning of bureaucracy in the country, the apex court held that bureaucrats must be given an assured minimum tenure in posting. The SC bench observed that fixed tenure of bureaucrats would promote professionalism, efficiency and good governance and that much of the deterioration in the functioning of bureaucracy is due to political interference. In this regard, the court directed the Centre and state governments to pass an order within 3 months on giving fixed tenure to civil servants.

The ruling also empowered top bureaucrats to record in writing the oral instruction of political bosses on files so as not to be troubled later on for a particular decision.

As per apex court, such recording of political instructions by bureaucrats will also help in promoting transparency and will allow general public to access correct information.

Why this verdict from the Supreme court?

The court passed the judgment on a PIL filed by 83 retired bureaucrats including former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian seeking its directions for insulating bureaucracy from political interference. The verdict has come in the backdrop of controversies involving bureaucrats including Ashok Khemka, IAS officer of Haryana cadre over DLF-Robert Vadra land deal, and Durga Sakhti Nagpal, UP cadre IAS officer, who was targeted by the state government for alleged misconduct.

What was the PIL about?

The PIL had alleged that at present, the system of transfers, postings, promotions, disciplinary action and other personnel matters pertaining to the members of civil services are ad-hoc and non-transparent. It said that transfers are often used as instruments of reward and punishment, with officials being frequently transferred on the whims and caprices as well as the personal needs of local politicians and other vested interests. Officers, especially those in the All India Services serving in state governments, have no stability or security of tenure.

It sought that the civil servants at all levels should be given a minimum 3-year fixed tenure on each post to foster functional freedom and independence. It said that there should be an independent, high-powered and statutory ‘civil services board’ in each state which should process proposals of postings and transfers.



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