THE UTTAR Pradesh IAS Association wants deletion of a sub-clause in the draft Public Service Bill-2006. The sub-clause states that civil servants should conduct themselves in a manner that they not only win confidence and trust of the political executive but also give impartial and frank advice to them.
The Association has demanded that the sub-clause be removed and recommended that public servants should be made accountable to the Constitution and the people.
“The increasing intolerance of the political executive towards civil servants providing frank advice is making life difficult, more so in situations where there is conflict between political exigencies and larger public interest,” said association.
The sub-clause was in sharp contrast to the notion of political neutrality, it said.
Association secretary Sanjay Bhus Reddy has sent a letter carrying recommendations for amendments to the draft bill to Gauri Kumar, honorary secretary of the Central IAS Association.
The Association has based its recommendations on the report of a sub-committee constituted to study various aspects of the draft bill. It hopes that the central body will take up the suggestions with the Centre and appropriate changes made.
A close scrutiny of the recommendations made by association reveals that the Union Government may have to incorporate many changes in the draft bill to make it acceptable and make the reforms meaningful.
The Association feels the draft bill should have a provision for minimum tenure for sensitive posts that include posts of chief secretary, secretaries, divisional commissioners and district magistrates at the State level and cabinet secretary/secretary at the Centre.
The Association has suggested that postings on sensitive posts of cabinet secretary, chief secretary should be done at least three months in advance. A procedure for appointment and removal of officers posted on such posts should also be laid down, the association says.
The Association has welcomed the move to constitute an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) though it has expressed strong reservations against induction of experts from outside the government system or from among retired civil servants. The Association has also strongly opposed the proposal that civil servants should be assessed by any expert management group comprising those not part of government.
“Assessment of any civil servant can be best done by eminent civil servants who have had experience of working in government and understand the constraints, processes and environment in which civil servants have to perform,” said association.
“Similarly, the effectiveness of EPG also depends on the selection process. The process of nomination of members by government will tend to undermine its effectiveness, impartiality and objectivity. Hence, the EPG should be self-selective,” the Association stated while suggesting that the EPG for assessing All India Services Officers should include the Chief Election Commissioner, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Chief Vigilance Commissioner and Chairman Union Public Service Commission.
“Such authorities could nominate representatives for discharging their duties at the State level. This group will have sufficient constitutional safeguards to act independently and also give objective assessment about officers since they have been overseeing their conduct in the field as well as policy making levels,” said the association while suggesting that the functions of EPG should include a five yearly performance appraisal of officers based on inputs from various sections that include supervisory officers, subordinates and other stakeholders.
The Association further suggested that the EPG should also conduct screening of officers who complete 25 years of service for further postings both at the Centre and State.
It should provide a positive list of panel of officers for posting on identified sensitive posts. It should also provide a negative list of officers debarred from being posted on sensitive posts.