The Supreme Court verdict on insulating bureaucrats from political interference has come as a shot in the arm for officers who have been unable to function effectively (“Unshackling the bureaucracy,” Nov. 2) due to political pressure. The judiciary has stepped in at the right time and provided the much required relief. The verdict will, hopefully, make Parliament expedite the process of enacting a law.
The judgment must have come as a shock to many State governments which have used the power of transfer and postings to make bureaucrats submit to their whims. One can surely hope for more transparency in governance.
The ruling party often suspends or simply transfers officers for not submitting to their orders. Often, it uses bureaucrats to meet its political ends. The Supreme Court’s direction to the Centre and the States to set up Civil Service Boards to deal with transfers, postings and punishment comes as a relief to bureaucrats who will now have more freedom to take decisions.
The sense of euphoria in the media over the Supreme Court verdict is misplaced. One hopes the judgment will not let loose a reign by the bureaucracy.
During the first two decades of Independence, the common man (and the politician) held civil servants in high esteem. They truly deserved respect as most of them were honest and committed to the ideals of the civil service. Times have changed and a considerable section of bureaucrats is comfortable with the system as it exists today. If a bureaucrat “succumbs” to wrongful pressure, it is not only because of pressure from his unscrupulous boss. He too stands to “benefit.”
V.S. Prakasa Rao,
The Supreme Court verdict is a welcome and much-needed one. But one also wonders whether the political class alone is responsible for red-tapism and corruption in the bureaucracy. Why are bureaucrats so willing to submit to their political bosses? It is necessary for the bureaucracy to look within itself.
The British ruled this country with an efficient administrative set-up, formed by a majority of their own men, with some hand-picked and efficient Indians. It was a framework that worked well. After Independence, we inherited this sound framework but let it rust by being lax in selecting the men who form this force. The ruling executive soon had men who glossed over the nuances of administration.
Corruption is the latest phenomenon. While the bureaucrat has to abide by rules, there seems to be no such restriction on the executive. We are no longer in the British era. In this situation, the latest directive by the Supreme Court appears timely and appropriate.
S. Chidambaresa Iyer,
In a constitutional democracy, the bureaucracy and the political executive have to function within the ambit of the Constitution, rules and regulations within the powers delegated to them, for which alone checks and balances are exercised through other independent constitutional functionaries such as the CAG, CBI and the judiciary in the system of governance. In all fairness, the political executive and the bureaucrats are required to function harmoniously in mutual trust and confidence to provide good governance to the country. When conflicts arise between them, leading to financial irregularities and corruption, the need to fix responsibility and accountability in the process of decision-making arises. Visualising this, the Supreme Court had mentioned in its order the importance of bureaucrats obtaining written orders on the relevant files.
The ruling, aimed at rescuing the top executive from the clutches of his political master, is a significant step towards good governance. Now, the executive can act assertively to refuse the unjustified demands of the political master with more immunity. As the political class usually doesn’t want to forgo its dominance, there is a chance of all parties across the board coming together to find ways to nullify the ruling.
The Supreme Court’s advice on police reforms met with the same fate.
It is time the media, civil society and executive took the cue to act as pressure groups to see that the spirit of the ruling gets translated into action.