The central government’s circular on dismissing or compulsorily retiring its employees on grounds of corruption or inefficiency is a positive move. It is distressing and sad that the civil services, which were supposed to act as a buffer against encroaching corrupt tendencies, have themselves succumbed to them.
Over the past 20 years one could detect many areas in which the careers of civil servants and politicians were enmeshed. We have had the instance of a former Union telecom minister and his close official going to jail on similar charges. In the nineties the IAS officers of UP held a referendum of sorts to decide who among them were the most corrupt, and of the people who came on top of the list, two later became chief secretary and one of them got a prison term. A strange characteristic of this has been that people who have often been found guilty are never known to lose their jobs though they had spent a considerable length of time behind bars. And efficiency for a bureaucrat seldom comes into the picture because target-oriented functioning is virtually missing in the government system.
Right from the time of the drafting of the Constitution, one thing had been envisaged very clearly. While the making of policy is the duty of the political executive, which is responsible to the legislature concerned, the execution is supposed to be done by the permanent executive, which is supposed to be politically neutral and loyal to the law and the Constitution. For this purpose safeguards were made for the civil servant in respect for transfer, dismissal, reduction in rank or even censure, though these were not observed in letter and spirit.
But the new system too deserves a safeguard. As bureaucrats tend to hitch themselves to political bandwagons, they organise themselves into groups that develop their own interests. In this there is every chance of an innocent officer becoming a victim of power politics. Hence before taking action against an officer there must be fair investigation so that the neutrality of the permanent executive can be maintained.