A civil services law – that could have helped officers such as Durga Shakti Nagpal – has been stuck in the UPA government for years because the politicians at the Centre and the states do not want it.
In the last 8 years, the proposed law has undergone several changes including its name. At last count, it was called the Civil Services Performance Standard and Accountability Bill.
Besides giving the civil service a fixed term, the legislation would have helped insulate the bureaucracy from the political leadership at the centre and the state by creating an authority to recommend transfers and consider disciplinary matters.
“It certainly would have helped Durga and others in her place,” said AN Tiwari, who conceived the idea of the law and tasked the Hyderabad-based Centre for Good Governance to come up with a report on the subject.
This was in 2005.
Tiwari was then secretary of the department of the personnel & training (DoPT). Over the next 8 years, Tiwari retired from the Indian Administrative Service, joined the Central Information Commission and completed his term.
But the law is nowhere in sight.
Tiwari said the proposal had run into trouble right at the beginning due to the Centre’s assessment that the move would receive the support of the states.
“It was felt that it would bring a lot of rigidity in the relationship between the civil service and the political leadership,” Tiwari said, convinced that it was getting to be impossible to carry out any meaningful civil service reforms without reforms in the political establishment.
At least two other former DoPT secretaries confirmed that attempts to push the legislation had been unsuccessful due to political reservations.
Government officials said the proposed law tried to take a rounded approach towards civil service reforms. It acknowledged that though there was a need to protect honest civil servants from harassment, it was also true that there were black sheep in the service who needed to be dealt with sternly.