Governments in 30 states and union territories including Delhi and Gujarat are yet to set up civil services boards (CSBs) mandated under a 2013 Supreme Court directive to insulate bureaucratic transfers from political interference.
The Supreme Court had directed the Centre and the states in November 2013 to constitute the CSBs to decide posting of senior administrative, police and forest service officers on a two-year fixed term.
More than a year later, only four states (Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Mizoram) and two union territories (Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli) have bothered to set up boards for the IAS officers.
But these states & UTs account for just 13% of the total 4,802 IAS officers in the country.
That means nearly 87% of IAS officers still do not have this shield.
A senior IPS officer said he wasn’t surprised at the reluctance of the political parties ruling in different states to take the first step towards civil service reforms.
“This is what they did to police reforms too,” he said, a reference to the 2006 judgment of the Supreme Court that has not been implemented by most states. In this judgment, the SC laid out a 7-step roadmap to keep politicians at bay and give police officers a free hand.
But politicians have been reluctant to give up their control over the civil services. The political executive at the centre perhaps understands this only too well. An advocate of reforms in other sectors, the Centre is neither too vocal about civil service reforms nor does it push hard for it.
Many officers argue that the concept that a CSB comprising top civil servants would act independent of the political executive was rather naïve. This is particularly the case when most senior officers don’t stand up for their juniors – who in the words of former home minister p Chidambaram in 2009 have been – “reduced to a football, to be kicked here and there”.
“Why do you remain silent,” Chidambaram had asked police chiefs in 2009, hoping against hope, to encourage the top cops to stand up for their juniors.
Obviously, it isn’t that implementing the Supreme Court judgments would, in one stroke, change the face of the civil services or the police. But it was the first step forward.