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Lessons in good manners for Punjab babus
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
It seems like a curriculum for a class on protocol and decorum. The teacher is the Chief Secretary of Punjab, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal. The students are not the usual ones but are bureaucrats and police officers of the state who will now have to “learn their lessons” on good manners while dealing with MPs and MLAs.

The Chief Secretary today issued a two-page circular, detailing what kind of behaviour was expected from the bureaucracy while dealing with elected representatives. The order also reminds the officials about their attendance in the Vidhan Sabha during discussions.

It has been addressed to all heads of departments, commissioners of divisions, DCs and SDMs. The Home Secretary has been asked to send the instructions to all police officers in the state.

The circular is the outcome of a debate in the Punjab Assembly during the Budget session this year. The MLAs of all parties, cutting across party lines, had virtually lambasted the bureaucracy in that debate and asked the Chief Minister to ensure that the officialdom is reigned in and due respect is accorded to MLAs.

The Chief Secretary has gone on to list 12 points on the desired conduct of the officialdom. While asking the bureaucracy to listen patiently to MPs or MLAs, he has advised officials to “always act according to your own judgement ”.

It goes on to say “the administrative secretaries and HoDs should be present in the House when the issues concerning their departments are being discussed in the Assembly”. Officials have been asked that any change in scheduled appointments with elected representatives should be explained to them and a fresh appointment be fixed in consultation with the latter.

An officer is required to get up from his seat to receive an MP or MLA when they come to see the officer in his office, and also see them off. Telephonic messages left by MPs or MLAs in the absence of an officer should be attended to at the earliest.

Also MPs and MLAs should be invariably invited to all state functions and seats for them be arranged as per the order of precedence.

The officialdom shall now be required to acknowledge all letters written by the elected representatives. Also requests by MLAs on statistics on matters of local importance should be met with promptly. And to turn down any such request, the official concerned shall have to take instructions from seniors. Officers have been asked to help the elected representatives and in case a request cannot be acceded to, the matter should be explained to the MLA or MP. The principles and practices that should govern relations between the legislators and the executives need to be spelt out, says the order.


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