Uttarakhand govt staff protest ‘arbitrary’ transfer law

The Uttarakhand government has come under attack from its staff for introducing Employees’ Transfer Act that leaves the criteria for transferring the personnel to ‘remote’ and ‘accessible’ areas “undefined” and “gives authorities absolute power” on the issue

dehradun Updated: Apr 13, 2018 22:04 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
State government employees alleged that the transfer law is replete with several discrepancies. (HT Photo)

The Uttarakhand government has come under attack from its staff for introducing Employees’ Transfer Act that leaves the criteria for transferring the personnel to ‘remote’ and ‘accessible’ areas “undefined” and “gives authorities absolute power” on the issue.

The staff are particularly outraged because all departments have been directed to list their respective ‘sugam’ (accessible) and ‘durgam’ (remote) areas, so employees could be transferred accordingly. An order in that connection was released on April 5.

“As a result, all departments will follow their own criteria for transferring the personnel to remote and accessible areas in absence of any well defined criteria stipulated in the law, which will create chaos,” an official at the secretariat said requesting anonymity.

“Such a discriminatory law gives authorities absolute power on matters of transferring employees, which they will certainly tend to misuse,” the official said.

Employees also threatened to oppose the “derogatory” transfer law. “There is one state, one transfer law but all departments will have their own separate criteria for listing accessible and remote areas,” State Employees Joint Association president Thakur Prahalad Singh said.

He said such a system “is certainly against the employees’” interests. He said the association would soon take up the issue with chief secretary Utpal Kumar Singh and urge him to have such a discriminatory transfer law amended.

Echoing similar sentiments, secretariat employees’ association president Deepak Joshi said head of the departments had been given “carte blanche” (complete freedom) under the transfer law.

“They may tend to misuse their power because the law has not defined any fixed criteria for identifying remote and accessible areas, so that state employees could be transferred on that basis,” he said.

“Such criteria were well defined in the employees’ transfer rules, which stood enforced before the new transfer policy was introduced.”

Singh agreed. “It was clearly defined in that law that the areas, which are not approachable by bus, are a remote areas. Conversely, the areas, which could only be reached by foot, had been defined as remote areas,” he said.

In fact, all state employees were “paid their travel allowances on the basis” of those twin criteria.

State employees alleged that the transfer law was also replete with several other discrepancies.

“It is, for instance, silent on married couples in the government service whether they would be given postings in accessible areas in case one of the spouses has completed their tenure in remote areas and the other one in accessible areas,” said one employee.

He cited other discrepancies like the law stipulating that the secretariat cadre officials would be transferred in a span of five years instead of usual three years.

“I am a secretariat cadre employee but transferring us in five years would not only affect our efficiency but it may also lead to corruption among the officials of our cadre,” said the official.

The transfer law, however, entails that employees would be transferred on the recommendations of committees headed by respective authorities at the state, divisional and district levels.

“There is a little likelihood of authorities imposing their will on transfers because such decisions will be taken jointly by the members of those panels,” said a secretary-level official.

“He agreed that there will always be exceptions to the rule but such exceptions will happen in 10% cases and in the rest of the cases the rule will prevail.”

Cabinet minister Madan Kaushik said all the departments would have to identify remote and inaccessible areas.

“The transfer law has been duly passed in the assembly and all employees would have to adhere to the law,” he said.

The minister, however, did not rule out the possibility of amending the transfer law. “We have introduced the law…In case, some amendments would be required the government would take a call on that,” he said.

First Published: Apr 13, 2018 22:04 IST