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Two-year term shield for IAS

New Delhi, Jan. 30 (PTI): Officers of the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service will now be expected to spend at least two years in each posting, according to new rules aimed at checking political interference.

However, transfers and new postings can happen before two years if recommended by a civil services board, to be formed by each state under the new rules circulated on Tuesday by the Centre’s department of personnel and training.

The notification has been prompted by a Supreme Court judgment on October 31 last year that directed the Centre to ensure fixed tenures for bureaucrats so they could function efficiently.

Cadre officers will now generally hold their posts for at least two years unless promoted, retired or sent on deputation outside the state or for training for more than two months, the rules say.

“The Centre or the state government... may transfer a cadre officer before the minimum specified period on the recommendation of the civil services board,” the rules say.

The “competent authority” may reject the civil services board’s recommendation but will, in that case, have to record its reasons.

In the matter of transfers, the state civil services board will consider the report of the administrative department along with any other inputs and also obtain the views of the officer proposed to be transferred.

It will not recommend premature transfer unless satisfied with the reasons for the proposal.

“The civil services board shall submit a quarterly report in such form as it thinks fit to the central government, clearly stating the details of officers recommended for transfer before the minimum specified tenure and the reasons (for that),” the rules say.

So far, the state governments alone decided the transfers of their civil servants. The process, vulnerable to political interference, was often described as “arbitrary” by NGOs and civil servants.

Court prod

“Repeated shuffling/transfer of officers is deleterious to good governance,” the apex court had said after hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by 83 retired bureaucrats that sought to insulate the bureaucracy from political interference.

“A minimum assured service tenure ensures efficient service delivery and increased efficiency. They (civil servants) can (then) also prioritise various social and economic measures intended for the poor and the marginalised sections.”

The apex court had asked the Centre to set up, within three months, boards that would decide transfers, postings and disciplinary action relating to civil servants until Parliament came up with a law for the creation of civil services boards. The three-month deadline ends tomorrow.

The judgment had come on the heels of controversies relating to Haryana-cadre IAS officer Ashok Khemka and UP-cadre IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, who had been punished by their state governments for alleged misconduct.

Among those who had moved the PIL was former cabinet secretary T.S.R. Subramanian.

“This is the first step. Many things need to be done,” he said today. “Many important beginnings have been made, including Lokpal. This notification should mark the beginning of a new era of good governance.”