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Politicisation of services

india Updated: Oct 13, 2006 17:08 IST

IN INDIA’S Parliamentary democracy, Ministers are accountable to the Lower House of Parliament and continue in office so long as they enjoy its confidence. The political executive may change with the party in power losing its majority even before the five yearly elections.

The executive power of the Union and the States vest in the President and the Governors respectively. This power is to be exercised by the President or the Governor directly or through officers subordinate to him. These officers constitute the permanent civil service or permanent arm of the executive and are governed by Part XIV of the Constitution.

Perhaps no other constitution has such provision and this makes our Constitution unique. The civil service and the staff working under them have to be politically neutral and owe their loyalty to the Constitution, which is secular in nature and based on the principles of rule of law and equality before law.

Keeping this in view the Union Government and the State Governments have framed Civil Services (conduct) Rules in accordance with the powers conferred by the Article 309 of the Constitution. Rule 5 of Madhya Pradesh Civil Service (conduct) rules 1965 states, “No Government servant shall be a member of or be otherwise associated with any political party or any organisation which takes part in politics, nor shall he take part in, subscribe in aid or, or assist in any other manner, any political movement or activity.” 

This does not, however, prevent the Government servant from exercising his right to vote, but where he does so he shall give no indication of the manner in which he has voted.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was banned after Mahtama Gandhi’s assassination on January 30, 1948. The ban was removed after it prepared a constitution, which forsake all political activities and confined itself to purely religious or cultural activities.  But very soon it revived its ambition of participating in political activities and gave birth to Bhartiya Jan Sangh and later on to the BJP. In fact the Morarji Desai Janata Government fell in 1979 on the issue of then Jan Sangh members not severing their connection with the RSS.

The dual membership of Jan Sangh members was not acceptable to the other constituents of the Janata Party. In April 1979 the RSS swore a affidavit before the Joint Charity Commissioner, Nagpur in which it denied being a Charitable Trust or a Religious Trust and stated that its work is ‘Cultural and Patriotic’ and its object is to create cultural unity of Hindu Samaj  and inspire them to become patriotic and create a strong Hindu Rashtra for all sided development of Bharat Varsh.

So far as politics in concerned, it clarified that it does not indulge day-to-day politics, though the Sangh has a political philosophy within its wide sweep of cultural work. It is possible for the Sangh to change this policy and even participate in politics. The policy can be changed at any time. It has not yet started participating in politics openly though clandestinely through BJP.

In the affidavit sworn before the Joint Commissioner it states that its activity is ‘akin to politics’. It deputes its Pracharaks in the apex bodies of the BJP on deputation. BJP cannot have its president or other office bearers unless they enjoy the confidence of the RSS. Advani had to relinquish president ship of the BJP (2005) under pressure from the RSS.

The Madhya Pradesh Government had imposed a ban on Government servants participating in RSS activities in 2000. It has now repealed the ban by its order dated August 14,2006.

The repeal of the ban clandestinely permits Government servants to participate in activities of the RSS, which are not purely cultural and/or religious.

The propagation of establishment of Hindu Rashtra  is a political activity and attacks the basic structure of the Constitution, which is secular in character.

The Gujarat Government was compelled to revoke repealing the ban under pressure from the Vajpayee government. Another problem in continuing with the repeal of the ban is that the Union Government will always take it as a negative point for promoting State Government officers to All India Services, as the officers of the State Government will be regarded with suspicion of being participants in RSS activities.

This order is also contrary to the Supreme Court’s judgement in September 2006 asking the State Governments to enact legislation for apoliticising the working of Police personnel. In order to restore the neutrality and the impartiality of Government servants in Madhya Pradesh it is necessary to re-impose the ban.