Claiming that government officials were misusing a law that protects them from arbitrary transfers, home minister RR Patil on Thursday told the state assembly that his department would move a proposal to amend the existing law.
Patil also said that the government would do a rethink on the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT), which was being misused by officials.
The Maharashtra Government Servants Regulation of Transfers and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Duties Act was promulgated in 2005 at the insistence of social activist Anna Hazare.
Patil said the existing act was leading to insubordination in the cadre and protecting wrong doings of several officials. Citing an example, Patil said a police official caught red handed trafficking illicit liquor and heroine could not be transferred following a stay from MAT.
However, activists claimed that the government was just trying to abolish MAT by creating pretexts.
“MAT provides a remedy for constitutional wrongs done on a public servant by authorities. Any move to abolish MAT shall further reduce protection to honest officials. Instead, MAT can be overhauled by bringing judges of competence,” said IPS officer-turned-lawyer and activist YP Singh.
Singh said the move to abolish MAT was because it was enforcing the law (on transfers) strictly.
Experts pointed out that the law allows transfers in exceptional cases with prior permission of the chief minister and it also permits ministers to take disciplinary action against erring officials.
However, on Wednesday, legislators across party lines expressed concern and demanding that the law be repealed or amended. The discussion came up in the question hour, wherein the Opposition legislators raised queries over the poor law-and-order situation in Pune.
Patil agreed with the overall sentiment in the house and said, “I have expressed concerns over this law in the cabinet earlier in an informal discussion. My department will bring a proposal to amend the law, if it gets cabinet clearance, we can move with a bill.”
Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil directed the state government to make its stance on both aspects — MAT and transfers law — clear within eight days.
Walse-Patil also expressed concerns over the misuse of the Right to Information Act, asking the state to examine whether it had powers to alter or bring changes to the central law.