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'Power to suspend IAS officers should stay with state government'

Former union cabinet secretary and ex-Uttar Pradesh chief secretary TSR Subramanian is known as an upright bureaucrat and for his forthright views on issues concerning the bureaucracy and governance.

lucknow Updated: Aug 16, 2013 11:55 IST
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Hindustan Times

Former union cabinet secretary and ex-Uttar Pradesh chief secretary TSR Subramanian is known as an upright bureaucrat and for his forthright views on issues concerning the bureaucracy and governance.

As an officer, Subramanian has worked with many politicians at the centre and in Uttar Pradesh.

The retired IAS officer spoke to Hindustan Times over the recent suspension of Gautam Budh Nagar subdivisional magistrate Durga Shakti Nagpal.

Excerpts from an interview :

IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal’s suspension is in focus now. Your views?

She was doing her duty. Generally no one acts against the mafia. She was, however, doing so. It is unfortunate that she was placed under suspension.

What impact is it going to have?

Suspension is no punishment. It is, however, considered to be a bad patch on the suspended officer.

There is a demand to withdraw the state government’s power to suspend IAS officers?

I do not agree with this. The IAS officers work under the state government’s control. So, the power to suspend them should vest in the state government. There should, however, be certain safeguards to protect the officers. The Government of India should review the suspension if any injustice is done to a officer.

Controversy over the suspension has strained relations between the politicians and bureaucrats?

Unfortunately, people are forgetting politicians and bureaucrats are two sides of the same coin. There can’t be any master and servant relationship between the political bosses and the bureaucrats. Officers should also not think that they are the rulers. They are public servants.

The Samajwadi Party is demanding that the IAS officers should be withdrawn from Uttar Pradesh?

The politicians and the bureaucrats are part of the same system. The head can’t say I do not want the liver or I do not want the lungs. The demand that the state does not want IAS officers is not acceptable. Any side should not cross limits. There should not be any pressure on bureaucrats and they should be allowed to express their views freely.

Do other states have better working conditions?

There is hardly any difference in the way the political class in the state and other parts of India functions.

Do the politicians need to be more sensitive?

I have worked with the politicians who are sensitive. I worked as chief secretary during the tenure of Mulayam Singh Yadav as chief minister. I worked as cabinet secretary when Mulayam Singh Yadav held the office of defence minister. He used to understand every point and listened to the problems put up before him. He always respected others and got respect. He did an excellent job and never acted without consulting me and the then defence advisor APJ Abdul Kalam.

What about chief minister Akhilesh Yadav?

I do not have any experience of working with the current crop. This issue of Durga Shakti Nagpal should have been handled in a mature manner. All aspects should have been examined before suspension, instead of ordering suspension at midnight.

How can things improve?

A balance has to be maintained in the relationship between the bureaucrats and the politicians. The bureaucrats run the government. The politicians just give directions. But there are certain bureaucrats who get too close to politicians. Such bureaucrats look at the politicians with utter contempt. The politicians should treat the bureaucrats generously.

Should there be any checks?

There are provisions to check the bureaucrats. Unfortunately, there are hardly any measures to check the political class. The politicians can either be voted out or legal action may be taken for their wrongdoings.

What about the media’s role?

It’s the media’s job to raise the issues. The media is doing its job. It should not be blamed for doing so. It was because of the media that the issue of rape was brought in focus.

First Published: Aug 16, 2013 11:48 IST