Upright civil servants who do not fall in line can stop looking over their shoulders. Chief ministers have lost the power to transfer them at the drop of a hat.
In a big push to governance reforms, the Manmohan Singh government has finally notified the fixed tenure rule for All India Service officers posted in the states. Now, a committee headed by the chief secretary has to approve any decision to transfer a bureaucrat before his minimum tenure is over.
Cabinet Secretary B.K. Chaturvedi – who had been pushing the PM’s reforms agenda – told the Hindustan Times that the comprehensive set of notifications covering the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service was notified on August 24.
The committee will have to be given “detailed justification” for the premature transfer but it need not depend on this input only. The move will give civil servants the elusive stability they had been desperately pleading for more than a decade.
The Prime Minister had called “frequent arbitrary transfers” a “pernicious phenomena” at his meetings with district collectors and superintendents of police last year and promised to keep working put an end to it.
Manmohan Singh is learnt to have subsequently asked his core team of bureaucrats to find a way out.
The notifications issued by the Centre empowers the Committee on Minimum Tenure to hear out the officer concerned vis-à-vis the circumstances under which the transfer was contemplated and consider “any other inputs it may have from other reliable sources”. “The committee shall satisfy itself regarding the inevitability of the premature transfer before making a recommendation to the government based on clear findings,” the notification said. The committees are also required to send quarterly reports to the Centre specifying the details of each case.