New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) Sacking government servants for non-performance or corruption is part of a Central government rule that has been in existence for many years, but while earlier a disciplinary action would take several years to materialise, now it is being done instantly.
But there are chances of such a rule being misused to “target a particular official for a particular reason”, said former Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar.
Chandrasekhar, who was the Cabinet Secretary in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government from June 2007 to June 2011 besides serving as the Revenue Secretary for a while, toldudaipur kiranthat there is an existing government rule under which the government can look at an official’s “continuing suitability” after he/she turns 50.
“Once they reach the age of 50, the government is supposed to look at the continuing suitability of the officials and then take a call on whether they should be continued with. But over the years, it has become more or less a routine exercise.
“Whether it (sacking officials) is good or bad depends on the criteria the government has adopted to sack them.
“If they are corrupt, or if they are not reliable or not efficient, then obviously there is a case for removing them. There is also the possibility that you can use this norm as a kind of ruse to get rid of a particular official for a specific reason… It may be political or otherwise,” he said.
According to Chandrasekhar, overall “there is no a change from the existing practice, except that it is being actually enforced more vigorously now.”
He said that unless one looks at each individual case, one cannot say “whether an official defied rule or not.”
Asked if he could remember any case of sacking during his term in office or in the past, Chandrasekhar said: “I don’t recall if there had been cases in the past. The Cabinet Secretary is not the cadre controlling authority for all the departments. It could have happened in revenue, or elsewhere. In any case, they were very, very few. Now the numbers are more.”
Chandrasekhar said that in the case of corruption, there were problems with the Revenue Department earlier too. “I used to get six boxes of files every day — three of them only relating to disciplinary action cases… So that was the kind of numbers that used to come.”
“Normally, these cases take a long time. All these cases also have to go to the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) before any action is taken.
“For a normal disciplinary action case, some of them used to take many years, nine, 10, 11… Now they are sacking them straight away. Many of them will approach the courts,” he said.
Asked what message he thought the government was aiming to give through the sacking of a large number of officials for alleged corruption or non-performance, Chandrasekhar said: “If the government is giving the message that ‘we are really going to handle corruption in a very strict way’, that is good. But if the government is giving the message that ‘unless you toe the line, you will be sacked,’ then that is bad.”