What Pinky Anand has highlighted in the article “Keeping politicians at bay” (Nov. 26) is only one side of the story. The threat of transfer that haunts a bureaucrat like a shadow is what hinders him or her in decision-making. The Supreme Court’s move freeing bureaucrats from the obligation of obeying oral orders from their political bosses is welcome. Oral orders are the single biggest cause of bureaucratic inefficiency.
The writer is unduly critical of judicial activism. An unprecedented extension of judicial reach should not be seen as an intrusion in the legislative domain. The civil services used to be a prestigious vocation once. But, today, civil servants are under the control of politicians.
Rather than accuse the Supreme Court of judicial overreach, one must applaud it for reinvigorating the debate on reforms in an election year. The deafening silence of the political class speaks volumes.
The argument on fixed tenure and choice of top bureaucrats seems misguided. An appropriate system of promotions, based on merit, eliminates the possibility of a bureaucrat not being suitable to work under a Minister. Moreover, the freedom given to Ministers to work with the “best” officers is extremely vulnerable to misuse.
That existing mechanisms have not yielded the desired effect should not come in the way of having such mechanisms at all. When there is an administrative vacuum created by the inadequacies of the executive, someone has to act. By directing Parliament to look into administrative reforms, the Supreme Court has done well.
Yogeshwar Nagnathrao Tompe,
Ms Anand is right in cautioning against the tendency of the highest judiciary to assume a role for itself beyond what the Constitution has envisaged for the smooth functioning of all three organs of the state. The higher judiciary must acknowledge its limitation that governance is not one of its constitutionally mandated roles.