Suspension of IAS and IPS officers may not be a regular occurrence in Uttar Pradesh but transfers certainly are and the current Samajwadi Party government, headed by Akhilesh Yadav, uses this tool as frequently as previous regimes.
In its 16-month tenure so far, the SP government has ordered as many as 800 transfers of IAS officers, which works out to an average of 50 transfers every month in a state which has about 350 IAS officers serving at present.
“The average tenure of district magistrates in the state has come down to about six months against the all-India average of nearly nine months,” said retired IAS officer Manohar Subramaniam.
Said another retired officer, “There was a time when district magistrates used to have a tenure of three years and principal secretaries two years. Nowadays, DMs fail to get even two years and are shifted within months. The principal secretaries get to work for a reasonable period only if they pursue the agenda of their political bosses.”
As retired chief secretary VK Mittal observed, “Over the years the maturity level of the political masters has gone down. Politicians today are not prepared to listen to officers even if doing so is in their own or in the public interest. As a result, officers trying to make their point against the wishes of political masters are moved out.”
As a large number of officers are shifted out or given plum postings at the behest of their political bosses, overall development takes the back seat. While the state has remained backward, the transfer ‘industry’ has flourished over the years.
Along with bureaucrats, police officers have had to pack their bags before being able to settle down anywhere for a reasonable time. An RTI query filed by activist Nutan Thakur — who recently moved the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court against sub-divisional magistrate Durga Shakti Nagpal’s suspension — revealed that 43 IPS officers in UP have been transferred 40 times in their career, which on an average spans 33 years.
Some officers known for their uprightness have even been transferred more than 40 times, according to information released by the state government to Thakur. Senior IPS officer Vinod Kumar Singh was transferred 43 times while his colleague Arun Kumar Gupta was shunted from one place to another 45 times. Other IPS officers transferred frequently include KL Meena (59 times), Kamal Saxena (48) and Vijay Singh (47).
Significantly, the state government had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court more than ten years ago, committing itself to ensuring an average tenure of two years for IAS and Provincial Civil Service officers.
But the commitment remained only on paper as officers were transferred frequently on a routine basis. The state government had filed the affidavit when pressed to do so by the Uttar Pradesh IAS Officers Association, which has been raising its voice against frequent transfers time and again but the pleas have gone unheard so far.