Why Governments ‘pledging’ for ‘cleaning’ public service delivery system have not succeeded so far?
The menace of ‘bad’ performance of duty indirectly ( non- performance of the duty for which a government servant is appointed ) or directly infecting the public funds and services is not unknown. With similar objective in 2020 too J&K Government has issued S.O. 324 of date 22-10- 2020 in exercise of powers conferred under proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution of India, amending Article 226(2) of the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Service Regulations so as to provide there in that Government may, if it is of the opinion that it is in the public interest to do so, require any Government servant other than one working on a post which is included in Schedule II of these Rules (-List of appointments specially classed as inferior), to retire at any time after he ( ofcourse it should have been he/she) has completed 22 years of qualifying service or on attaining 48 years of age. No doubt intentions may be pious but the cases where retirements is given on the basis of below average performance reduced efficiency/age the orders should be worded in a manner that does not cause any social damage to the retiree. Where provision is used to weed off the doubtful integrity cases surviving under the cover of technicalities the text could be worded differently andcan be even dismissal orders and not simple pre mature retirement in interest of administration Let there be only one case but that would surely set examples worth imposing deterrents.
The then (October 12, 1963 to February 29, 1964 )Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Khwaja Shams-ud-Din had made the civil secretariat employees to stand with him in the laws of New Secretariat Jammu and take a pledge for observing and maintaining a honest conduct. Khwaja Shams-ud-Din did not stay for more time. One would ask why? The simple answer that could be retrieved is that ‘his’ people for whom he ventured into war against corruption did not go with him. And after that over it is nearly 56 years and every new Chief Minister or Administer on taking over has talked of zero tolerance against corruption on public resources and non performance by government servants . But …
During Governor rule(Sh. Jagmohan as Governor )in 1986 some government officers were given premature retirement invoking the provisions Rule 226 (2) of the Jammu and Kashmir CivilService Regulations by issuing orders like Govt. Order No. 300 GR of 1986 dated 25-4-1986, Government order No.189GR of 1986 dated 11.4.1986, 1986, Govt. order No. 947 GR of 1986 dated 31 July 1986, etc. But since either the cases were not well structured before issuing orders or the petitions challenging some of the orders were not that well contested during judicial / legal review by the governments in the courts resulting in some of the retired employees getting relief at some stages of the trials in the courts. In 2002 attempt to cleanse the bureaucracy was made by Mufti Mohd Sayeed too but it could only get rid of some junior officials. It was on 13th August 2006 or so that the J&K Chief Minister G.N Azad had taken a decision to remove from service ten officials with immediate effect by way of premature retirement under Article 226-2 &-3 (though the text of order did not reflect so, the impression sent by government wasthatthe concerned had been using their position to amass wealth through unfair means.
On 6th November 2006 the then J&K Chief Minister had said while in Delhi “Money was received from the center but siphoned off due to nexus between politicians and corrupt bureaucrats .The practice needed to stop and already steps have been taken by his government … last 17 years of militancy had been exploited by corrupt elements in the administration and nonperforming bureaucrats “.
The Omar Abdullah lead NC- Congress Government ( 2008-2014) also could not succeed in making an impact against the corrupt order ( as regards making expenditure made from exchequer and delivery of public services through men & materials) although a high level Committee was appointed to take action against thenon performing/ “corrupt” but it appeared the “accused” were strong enough to influence Omar Government since those who followed toohad to trumpet Zero Tolerance against bad/dead “woods”.
Mufti Mohd Sayeed too had talked in 2015 for acting against the corrupt government employees and encouraging the honest government employees. It was reported in March 2015 that the then PDP-BJP government headed by had taken decision for removal of officials with negative vigilance reports (some media reports said that list of about 100 officials had been prepared ).
A landmark anticorruptionlaw had been enacted in December 2005 empowering the state to attach property of public servants and bureaucrats having assets disproportionate to their legitimate income. But any law could operate only when the Vigilance Organisation/ State Accountability Commission or Vigilance Commission perform/ are able to perform their duty truthfully& effectively.
No doubt there are a good number of sincere arms in the government but either they ‘fail’ to reach the bosses or the complicated conduct/ service rule channels do come in their way to mend / remove bad elements and that too issome element of the reasons for anti- corruption / vigilance / accountability institutions being not that successful. Mufti’s ‘venture’ too was not that easy, particularly keeping in view the guidelines for premature retirement cases as werecontained in Government OM NO. GAD (Vig.)19Adm/2010 dated 25.10.2010.So, it was not taken seriously by ‘the’ common mind’ keeping in view the fate of similar proposals and pledges taken in the past
A list of officers/ officials who were said to have been booked by the J&K State Vigilance Organization that was put before the legislators (Legislative Council) while replying to the un-starred question of Firdous Ahmed Tak MLC on 30 March 2015. A recount of the list could reflect how “fast & effectively” the cases are carried through keeping in view the prescribed conduct procedures, the way accused attempt to take the shelter of courts and the way the ministries / administrative departments handle the related matters.
During 2016 J&K was under governor rule for a brief period and Governor N. N. Vohra too had shown some intentions for weeding out “dead wood / non performing / ineffective /corrupt elements” but it was learnt that the administrative departments / GAD/ Chief Secretary had expressed difficulties in screening out the corrupt elements/ nonperforming elements / elements of doubtful integrity since even the annual performance report / records were incomplete in many cases.
With similar objective in 2020 too J&K Government has issued S.O. 324 of date 22-10- 2020 amending the J&K Civil Service Regulations. But it will have to be tested how this process will be conducted and how the human resource requirement will be met for maintaining the prescribed schedules.So far Administrative Departments have not been able maintain discipline in time even for disposal of promotion / seniority cases of employeeseven7-10 yrs after retirement of some. SAC on 22-10-2019 had ordered (No 258/22/2019 ) that proposal for regular promotion in Engg. Cadre of J&K PDD be processed bypassing PSC upto 30-11-2019 but it is December 2020 now.Will ‘they’ be able to use SO 324 of 22-10-2020 to weed out / get rid of unwanted elements from government machinery ? Wait and see.
Suggestions have been regularly made like that let only one officer be removed from services in terms of non performance / doubtful integrity/ but the action taken should be secure against any legal/ administrative review .Some files of actions taken earlier but ‘defeated’ during review by the Courts could be taken for study to draw out effective working grounds like case files of orders issued during Governor Rule in 1986 (Jagmohan as Governor ) G.O 300 GR of 1986 dated 25-4-1986, G.O.89GR of 1986 dated 11.4.1986, 1986, G.O. 947 GR of 1986 dated 31 July 1986, etc.
(*Daya Sagar : Sr, Journalist & Social Activist [email protected])