It is necessary that the judgement not only gets implemented in letter but in spirit also, IAS officers’ association secretary Sanjay R. Bhoos Reddy said.

Welcoming the Supreme Court’s verdict directing the Centre to reform the bureaucracy, serving and retired bureaucrats said the overhaul would help to ensure good governance and improve the functioning of administration.

However, there are others who feel that the political class will not let it happen for fear of losing their authority, and this judgment may meet the fate of the one on police reforms. The former Cabinet Secretary, T.S.R. Subramanian, who was the main petitioner in the case, said: “Public servants are not private servants. Today, faith in our Constitution has been reaffirmed. Our faith in the strength of democracy has been reaffirmed because the highest court of the land has recognised the problems. The mal-governance affected the people and quality of administration.”

The former Chief Election Commissioner, N. Gopalaswami, another petitioner, noted: “The judgment is significant because it comes on the birthday of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who formed the civil services in the country. These reforms are necessary as most of the public servants silently suffer at the hands of politicians.”

Citing the examples of IAS officers Ashok Khemka and Durga Shakti Nagpal, whose tenures have been mired in transfer controversies, he said: “There are certain positive things from the judgment. Now, civil servants, who will have a fixed tenure, will have to …perform [well]. Harassments of officers must be taken care of by the Civil Services Board.”

The IAS Officers’ Association said it was necessary to get the ruling implemented in letter and in spirit.

Association of Indian Forest Service president A.R. Chadha said the ruling would check arbitrary transfers and suspensions.

However, the former Border Security Force Director-General, Prakash Singh, whose public interest litigation petition led to the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment on police reforms in 2006, doubted the willingness of political parties to implement the sweeping reforms. Despite the court’s clear order on police reforms, no State has implemented it in letter and in spirit. “People want a good police force and a clean and an efficient bureaucracy and the court has ordered the same; but are our political masters ready for this big change?”

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