Compulsory cooling-off for ex-babus?

  • Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 01, 2014 02:26 IST

Concerned that promises of a post-retirement stint in private firms could tempt senior officers to favour them, the Modi government is planning to introduce a rule to bar retired officers from joining firms that benefited from decisions taken while they were in service.

The restriction would apply for one year after the official retires.

And to make sure that officials play ball, there are plans to require private firms dealing with the government to give an undertaking that they won’t hire any such officers against the rules.

Existing rules require all retired officers to take the government’s permission if they intend to take up a job in the private sector till a year after their retirement.

But government sources conceded this rule isn’t always enforced. Also, there are no laid down principles to process such requests and the permissions are liberally granted to officials who can pull strings.

“It has been proposed that the request be examined on two principles. First, if the officer concerned was associated with a decision in the previous two years that benefitted the firm. Second, if he played a role in a policy decision that indirectly benefited the firm,” a government source said.

These might be basic principles to assess such requests but they have never been laid down, giving departments a free hand to provide clearances or withhold them.

But there is recognition at the Department of Personnel & Training, which acts as the government’s HR manager, that there are limits to trying to impose restrictions on officials once they had retired.

For instance, the proposal conceded, there was no provision to act against a retired employee for taking up a private job that raises questions about his performance as an official earlier.

Officials at DoPT have asked the government to plug this loophole by introducing a ban on companies recruiting such officials unless they have clearance from the Centre. Similar provisions could also be added to the integrity pacts that firms have to sign before getting contracts from the government.

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