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RELATIONSHIPBETWEENTHEPOLITICAL
EXECUTIVEANDTHEPERMANENT
CIVILSERVICE
July24,2013 ~ bhargawp
RELATIONSHIPBETWEENTHEPOLITICALEXECUTIVEANDTHEPERMANENTCIVILSERVICE
TheIndianConstitutionprovidesforseparationofpowersbetweenthelegislature,executiveandjudiciarywithwelldenedrolesand
responsibilitiesforeachoneofthem.SinceIndiaisaparliamentarydemocracy,thereisaninterfacebetweenthelegislatureandtheexecutive
attheleveloftheCouncilofMinisters,whichiscollectivelyresponsibletothelegislature.TheConstitutionseparatestheexecutiveintotwo
parts.IntermsofArticles53and154,theexecutivepoweroftheUnionandtheStatesvestsinthePresidentorGovernordirectlyorthrough
ocerssubordinatetohim.TheseocersconstitutethepermanentcivilserviceandaregovernedbyPartXIVoftheConstitution.
Theotherpartoftheexecutiveisthepolitical.ThePresidentorGovernorisrequiredtoactaccordingtotheaidandadviceofhisCouncilof
Ministers,appointedunderArticles73and163oftheConstitution.Becausetheadviceisnormallybinding,suchadvicefortheocersbecomes
anorderwhichtheymustobeyunderArticles77and166respectively.ThePresidentandGovernorframerulesfortheconductofbusinessin
thegovernment.WorkisallocatedamongMinistersaspertheGovernmentofIndia(AllocationofBusiness)Rulesandthemannerinwhich
theocersarerequiredtohelpthePresidentorGovernortoexercisehisexecutivefunctionsisgovernedbytheGovernmentofIndia
(TransactionofBusiness)Rules.WhatthismeansisthatthoughocersaresubordinatetothePresidentorGovernor,theycarryouttheorders
oftheCouncilofMinistersinaccordancewiththerules
framedinthisbehalf.TheRulesofBusinessofGovernmentdoprovidefortheSecretarytotheGovernmenttoadvisehisMinisteraboutthe
courseofactionproposedinaparticularmaerandtosubmittohimanotewhichtellshimabouttheproprietyorlegalityofhisordersand
suggestthateithersuchordersnotbegivenorthattheybesuitablymodied.TherelationshipbetweentheSecretaryandtheMinisteris
organic.TheMinisterhasthemandateofthepeopletogovern,buttheSecretaryhasanequivalentconstitutionalmandatetoadvisethe
Minister.Oncehisadvicehasbeensuitablyconsidered,unlesstheMinisterpassesanillegalorder,theSecretaryisboundtoimplementit.The
Minister,onhispart,isrequiredtosupporttheSecretarywhoisimplementinghisorder.Oncealawisframedor
rulesandregulationsareapproved,theyapplytoeveryone,whetheramemberofthepoliticalexecutiveorofthepermanentcivilservice.A
civilservantisrequiredtoimplementtheordersofgovernmentwithoutbias,withhonestyandwithoutfearorfavour.Itispreciselyinthis
areathatadegreeofadierenceofopinionbeginstoemergebetweenthepoliticalexecutiveandthecivilservants.
Thishappensbecausethereisnosystemofspecifyingofaccountability,thusmakingtherelationshipbetweenthepoliticalexecutiveandthe
permanentcivilservantsonlyissuesensitive.
ThisunderscoresthecriticalityofdeningtherelationshipbetweentheMinisterandthecivilservantmoreobjectively.Thisispossibleonlyif
weputtherelationshipinanoutputoutcomeframework.Outputsorkeyresultsarespecicservicesthatthecivilservantsproduceand
deliver,andtherefore,thecivilservantsshouldbeheldtoaccountforthedeliveryofkeyresults,whichbecomesthebasisforevaluationof
theirperformance.Outcomeisthesuccessinachievingsocialgoalsandthepoliticalexecutivedecideswhatoutputsshouldbeincludedsothat
thedesiredoutcomesorsocialgoalscanbeachieved.Insuchascheme,thepoliticalexecutivebecomesaccountabletothelegislatureandthe
electoratefortheoutcome.Thepoliticalexecutiveisjudgedonthebasisofwhetherithaschosenthe
rightoutputstoachievesocialgoals.Ifthisisdone,therelationshipbetweenthepoliticalexecutiveandpermanentcivilservicewouldhave
beenobjectivelydened.
AnotherareawhichhastensionintherelationshipisthearbitrarytransferandpostingofcivilservantsatthebehestofMinistersandother
politicalleadersparticularlyinthestates.RobertWade,inhisstudyofAndhraPradesh,hasshownhowtheprocessworks.AsWadesays,The
transferisthepoliticiansbasicweaponofcontroloverthebureaucracyandthustheleverforsurplusextractionfromtheclientsofthe
bureaucracy.Withthetransferweaponnotonlycanthepoliticiansraisemoneybydirectsale;theycanalsoremovesomeonewhoisnot
beingresponsiveenoughtotheirmonetarydemandsortotheirrequestforfavourstothosefromwhomtheygetmoneyandelectoralsupport
https://bhargawp.wordpress.com/tag/relationshipbetweenthepoliticalexecutiveandthepermanentcivilservice/
inparticular,thecontractors.Oneisthusledtovisualiseaspecialcircuitoftransactions,inwhichthebureaucracyacquiresthecontrolof

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inparticular,thecontractors.Oneisthusledtovisualiseaspecialcircuitoftransactions,inwhichthebureaucracyacquiresthecontrolof
funds.thenpassesaportiontoMLAsandespeciallyMinisters,whointurnusethefundsfordistributingshorttermmaterialinducements
inexchangeforelectoralsupport.Thesefunds,itshouldbenoticed,doowthroughthepublicdomain;buttheyareneitheropentopublic
scrutinynoravailableforpublicexpenditureprogrammes.
Infact,theprocessoftransfersofcivilservantsisperceivedtobesolucrativethatitispopularlyknownasthetransferindustry.NNVohra,a
retiredcivilservant,hascommentedthat:
EthicsinGovernanceRelationshipbetweenthePoliticalExecutiveandthePermanentCivilServiceTransfersofgovernmentfunctionaries
haveinmanyStates,virtuallyassumedthestatusofanindustry.Ocialsatalllevelsarerepeatedlyshiftedfromstationtostationinuer
disregardofthetenurepoliciesoranyconcernaboutthedisruptionofpublicservicesdeliveryandtheadverseeectontheimplementationof
developmentprogrammes.InMohsinaBegumscase,theAllahabadHighCourtlamentedthatwheneveranewgovernmentisformed,there
isatidalwaveoftransfersofgovernmentservantsonthebasisofcasteorcommunityormonetaryconsiderationsleading
tototalemoralisationofthebureaucracyanditsdivisiononcasteandcommunalbasis,besidesspreadofcorruptionandbreakdownofall
normsofadministration.
HDShourieofCommonCausehadledaPublicInterestLitigationintheSupremeCourtaskingforadirectionforframingofrulesgoverning
theprocessoftransferofcivilservants.ButtheSupremeCourtrefusedtodosoonthegroundthat,Wedonotconsideritnecessarytoentertain
thiswritpetitionsincetheguidelinesfortakingsuchadministrativedecisionsarewellseledanditisobviousthatalladministrative
decisionsshouldsatisfytheruleofnonarbitrarinessandbehonestandfair.Individualcasesinwhichthedecisionmakingprocessisvitiated
foranysuchreasoncanalwaysbechallengedinasuitablemanner.
TheFifthPayCommissionwasdriventomakesomeadverseobservationsaboutthetransferindustry.TheCommissiondeclared:Thereisa
denitefeelingthattheinstrumentoftransferiswidelymisusedinthiscountry,particularlybypoliticiansinpower,tosubjugatethe
governmentemployees.Transferisalsousedasaninstrumentofpunishment.Demandshave,therefore,beenmadethatnotransferbefore
theexpiryofthreeyearsinapost,shouldbemadeappealable,particularlyifithasbeenmadeatthebehestofpoliticians.
TheFifthPayCommissionmadeseveralrecommendationsaboutevolvingdetailed,clear,andtransparenttransferpolicies.First,the
Commissionrecommendedthatdetailedguidelinesshouldbeformulatedandpublicisedbyeachdepartmentaspartofacomprehensive
transferpolicy,sothatarbitrarinessintransfersiseliminatedaltogether,andtransfersareeectedinastransparentamanneraspossible.
Second,inordertoensureadministrativecontinuityandstabilitytoincumbents,frequenttransfersshouldbediscouraged,andaminimum
tenureforeachpostingofocersshouldbepredetermined,anditshouldnormallybethreetoveyears,exceptincaseswherelongertenures
arejustiedonfunctionalgrounds,likecontinuedavailabilityofcertainspecializedskills.Inthecaseofsensitiveposts,whereopportunities
existfordevelopingvestedinterests,thetenureshouldbedenedforashorterperiod,whichmaybetwotothreeyears.
Third,anyprematuretransferbeforethecompletionoftheprescribedtenureshouldbebasedonsoundadministrativegrounds,whichshould
bespeltoutinthetransferorderitself.Thecivilservantshouldbegiventherighttoappealagainstsuchanorderifhefeelsaggrieved,anda
provisionforasummaryproceduretodealwithsuchasituationshouldbemadewithineachdepartment.Incaseofemergency,whensuchan
orderismadeintheexigenciesofpublicinterestandhastobeimplementedatonce,representationagainstthetransferordershouldbedealt
withbyanauthoritysuperiortotheocerorderingthetransferafterpersonaldiscussion,ifpossible,onthesameday.
Fourth,theinstrumentoftransfershouldnotbeallowedtobemisusedeitherbybureaucratsthemselvesorbypoliticiansinpower.Itshould
notbeusedasameansofpunishmentbycircumventingtheprocedurelaiddownfordisciplinaryproceedings.
Theissuewasraisedbymanypersonsineverypublichearingandpressconferenceheld
bytheCommission.Amongstthemanyleers/commentsreceivedbytheCommissiononthismaer,isadetailedonewrienbyLokayuktaof
Karnataka.Hesays:Overtheyears,myexperienceasaLawyer,JudgeandnowasLokayuktahasmademefeelthatthepolicyofthe
Governmentinregardtotransferofitsocersrequiresseriousreconsideration.IhadseveraloccasionstomeetvariousocersbothofState
andCentralGovernmentandinthecourseofmydiscussionwiththem,Ifoundthereislotofdiscontentmentamongsttheminregardtothe
transferpoliciesoftheirrespectiveGovernments.
Thecommoncomplaintseemstobethatthereisnoproperpolicyatallandtransfersareeectedatthewhimsandfanciesofthedecision
makingauthoritywhichismostlyinuencedbythepressurefromthepoliticiansvarioushues.Suchtransfersarelikelytohaveserious
adverseeectontheeciencyoftheGovernmentitself.Evenotherwise,tohaveanindependentaitudeandpeaceofmind,aGovernment
servantmusthavesomeassuredtenureinanyposttowhichheispostedbeforeheistransferred.Transfersbasedontherecommendationsof
personswhoarenotconnectedwiththeGovernmentinanyway,whichincludeselectedrepresentatives,wouldcertainlyleadtocorruption
andunduefavoursbeingshowninfavourofsuchbeneciaries.
Atthesametime,transfersthoughshownforadministrativereasons,quietoftenseemtobetheoutcomeofsomeonespersonalgrievance,
amountingtopunishment.SuchoccasionswillcertainlyhaveadverseeectontheperformanceoftheGovernment.Thereisatalkamongstthe
publicthattransferstocertainpowerfulpostsarebeingmadeforcollateralconsiderationswhichinvolvescorruption.ItisinthisbackgroundI
thinkitappropriatetowritetoyou,requestingtheAdministrativeReformsCommission,tomakesuitablerecommendationsinregardtothe
transferpolicies,bothintheCentralandattheStateGovernmentlevels.
OnesuggestionIcouldmakeinthisregard,whichmayattheoutsetmayseemtoberatherrigid,istoleavethetransfertobureaucracyitself
withouttherebeinganyinterferencewhatsoeverbytheMinistry.Inmyopinion,insofarasthestatewidetransferisconcerned,thesame
shouldbedoneontherecommendationsofaCommieeconsistingoftheChiefSecretaryoftheState,nextseniormostSecretaryandthe
SecretaryoftheDepartmentinwhichthetransferissoughlttobeeected.IfthisCommieeisdirectedtoperfomitsfuncitonstransparently,it
willbeopentotheMinistrytooverseethecomplaintsontheactionsoftheCommieeandremedialactionscouldbetaken.Thiswould
certainlytakeawaythepublicperceptionthattransfersarebeingdoneonpoliticalorcollateralconsiderations.Similarly,inregardtotransfer
ofocersatDivisionalandDistrictlevels,thesameshouldbeeectedthroughaCommieeheadedbytheseniormostocerofthatDivision
ortheDistrict,andnextseniorocerofthedepartmentinwhichthetransferissoughttobeeected.Lastlyandmostimportantly,thereshould
beminimumofthreeyearsxeddurationfortheocersstayinaparticularpost,whichshouldnotbenormallyreducedorenlargedexcept
forgoodreasonstoberecordedinwriting.
TheNationalCommissiontoReviewtheWorkingoftheConstitutionhasalsocommentedonthis.TheCommissionsaid:
https://bhargawp.wordpress.com/tag/relationshipbetweenthepoliticalexecutiveandthepermanentcivilservice/
Thequestionsofpersonnelpolicyincludingplacements,promotions,transfersandfasttractadvancementsonthebasisofforwardlooking

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Thequestionsofpersonnelpolicyincludingplacements,promotions,transfersandfasttractadvancementsonthebasisofforwardlooking
careermanagementpoliciesandtechniquesshould
bemanagedbyautonomousPersonnelBoardsforassistingthehighlevelpoliticalauthoritiesinmakingkeydecisions.SuchCivilService
Boardsshouldbeconstitutedunderstatutoryprovisions.TheyshouldbeexpectedtofunctionliketheUPSC.Thesanctityofparliamentary
legislationunderarticle309isneededtocounteractthepubliclyknowntrendsoftheplayofunhealthyanddestabilizinginuencesinthe
managementofpublicservicesingeneralandhighercivilservicesinparticular.
TheDraftPublicServicesBill,2006mootstheideaofconstitutingaCentralPublicServicesAuthorityforgoodgovernance.IntermsofArticle
19(e)oftheBill,theAuthorityhasbeenchargedwiththeresponsibilityofensuringthat:thetransfersandpostingsofpublicservantsare
undertakeninafairandobjectivemannerandthetenureofthepublicservantinapostisappropriatelydeterminedandismaintained
consistentwiththeneedtomaintaincontinuity,andtherequiremetsofgoodgovernance.However,therecommendationsoftheAuthorityin
thesemaerscannotbemandatory,butonlyadvisory.
AnotherlikelyareaofconictbetweentheMinisterandtheocersistheinuenceexercisedbytheMinisterinthedaytodayfunctioningof
subordinateocers.Ecientrunningofactivitiesofaministryordepartmentrequiresdelegationofpowersandfunctionstothevariouslevels
ofbureaucracy.Oncethisdelegationhasbeendone,thebureaucracyshouldbeallowedtodischargeitsduties,ofcourseasperthedelegated
authority.IthasoftenbeenobservedthatMinistersissueinstructions,formalorinformal,toinuencethedecisionsofthesubordinate
bureaucracy.Ithasalsobeenobservedthatocers,insteadoftakingdecisionsontheirown,lookuptotheMinistersforinformalinstructions.
SeveralstateshavecreatedaninstitutionofDistrictInchargeMinistertoreviewthedevelopmentactivitiesinthedistrict.Therehavebeen
instanceswhenDistrictMinistershaveexceededtheirbriefandissuedinstructionsonissueswhichcometotallywithintheocersdomain.
Thesepracticesareunhealthyastheycanhaveapropensitytocheckanocersinitiativeandimpingeontheauthoritydelegatedtohim.It
couldleadtodecisionswhicharenotinpublicinterestandalsodemoralisedaconscientiouscivilservant.Itisnecessarytospelloutthe
relationshipbetweenthepoliticalexecutiveandthebureaucracyinacomprehensivemanner.TheCommissionwouldsuggestthedetailsofthe
institutionalandlegalframeworkrequiredtobuildahealthyrelationshipbetweenthepoliticalexecutiveandthebureaucracyin
itsforthcomingReportonCivilServicesReforms.
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