Naveen Patnaik govt to draw up hit list to retire deadwood among officials
Taking a leaf out of the Narendra Modi government’s premature retirement of central government officials including 27 officers of Indian Revenue Service in June, the Naveen Patnaik government now plans to hand out premature retirement to government officials of doubtful integrity and those who are inefficient.
In a circular issued by the Odisha government’s general administration and public grievance department Tuesday evening, the government said performance and service record of state government employees of Group A, B, C and D category would be reviewed every 3 months by a committee of officials to zero in on such people who need to be sacked.
Two types of employees would come under its purview. Employees who have completed 30 years of service or have attained 50 years of age (whichever is earlier) and those who have attained 55 years of age.
“Pemature retirement will be followed only when it is seen that it will not be in public interest to retain an employee in service if he/she is clearly lacking in integrity or although his/her integrity is not in doubt, his/her physical or mental conditions is such as to make him/her inefficient for further service or even though his/her work in a lower grade was satisfactory, he clearly lacks standard or efficiency required to discharge the duties of the post he presently holds. The basic consideration in identifying such employees should be the fitness and competence of the employees to continue in the post which he/she is holding,” the circular said.
In June this year, the central government had retired 27 senior officers from Indian Revenue Service over lack of efficiency and integrity. Union minister of state for personnel and training Jitendra Singh recently said the government has invoked or recommended premature retirement clause against 125 Group-A and 187 Group B officers after review of performance of over 1.19 lakh Group-A and Group-B officers between 2014 and 2019.
Though the provision of premature retirement existed since November 1987 and government employees could be retired as per Rule 71 of Odisha Service Code, officials said that it was rarely invoked and few records exist of such retirements.
“The new circular supersedes the old one up in the light of different judicial pronouncements on premature retirement. The government would now have a database of officers or employees who are completing 30 years of qualifying service or attaining 50 years of age and 55 years of age. The government is very serious now to chop out the deadwood,” said Ganesh Chandra Patra, special secretary in the general administration department.
The new circular relies on a 2001 judgment of Supreme Court (Sate of Gujarat vs Umedbhai M Patel) in which the apex court observed that whenever the services of a public servant are no longer useful to the general administration, the officer can be prematurely retired for the sake of public interest. For better administration, it is necessary to chop off deadwood, it said. The court, however, said the order of premature retirement is not to be treated as a punishment under Article 311 of the Constitution.
The government circular, however, made it clear that premature retirement was no penalty and no stigma be attached to an employee retired prematurely. The service period of all such employees who are being prematurely retired should be certified as satisfactory for purpose of pension. It also said no employee should be retired on grounds of ineffectiveness if he is retiring on superannuation within a period of one year from the date of consideration of the case.
Retired civil servant and former union coal secretary Prasanna Mishra welcomed the move, but cautioned that the process may be riddled with flaws. “It all boils down to how people will be evaluated. The evaluation system leaves much to be desired. Employees who abide by rules and procedures may be victimised if they differ in opinion with their superiors in official files,” he said.