M A I N   N E W S

SC wants fixed tenure for babus
Tells political bosses to refrain from giving verbal orders to civil servants 
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 31
In a move to protect IAS officers against the whims and fancies of ruling parties and improve governance, the Supreme Court today directed the Centre and the states to set up within three months Civil Service Boards (CSBs) to provide guidance on their postings and transfers and disciplinary action against them.

IAS officers should also be provided a minimum tenure of service at each place of their posting, the apex court ruled.

A Bench comprising Justices KS Radhakrishnan and PC Ghose also directed the political Executive to stay away from giving oral instructions to the civil servants as there must be some record for each of their actions.

The SC issued the directives on a PIL filed by 83 retired IAS officers, including former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian, former Ambassador to the US , Dr Abid Hussain and former Chief Election Commissioners TS Krishna Murthy and N Gopalaswami .

They had said the PIL was their last resort for bringing about civil service reforms to root out corruption, check political interference and deal head on with poor governance in order to achieve prosperity and equity and catch up with the rest of the world."

In the 47-page judgment, the apex court, however, rejected the plea for independent CSBs comprising retired officials. The CSB at the centre would be headed by the Cabinet Secretary and those at the state-level by the Chief Secretary and give their recommendations on service matters. The CSBs would have experts from various fields like administration, management and science and technology.

However, the CSBs suggestions could be overruled by the political executive by recording reasons to ensure good governance, transparency and accountability in governmental functions, the SC clarified.

The SC directives would be in force until Parliament enacted the Civil Service Act, setting up a CSB, the Bench ruled.

In the present political scenario, the role of civil servants has become very complex and onerous. Often they have to take decisions which will have far reaching consequences in the economic and technological fields. Their decisions must be transparent and must be in public interest. They should be fully accountable to the community they serve, the Bench explained.

The SC ruling has come even as its 2006 directives on police reforms are yet to be implemented by the states.

Among the other PIL petitioners were Ved Prakash Marwah, who has been Governor of Manipur, Mizoram and Jharkhand, former CBI Director Joginder Singh, former Intelligence Bureau (IB) Director Arun Bhagat and ex-Union Finance Secretary Ajit Kumar.

Most of the petitioners were former Union Secretaries, ex Chief Secretaries in various states across the country or retired Directors General of Police (DGPs) and belonged to the Indian Civil Services (ICS), Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS).





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