A piquant situation has begun to show signs in the top echelons of the administrative structure of the State. In theory and in practice, the Cabinet is at the apex of administrative hierarchy and the premier source of authority and power. Obviously, all major policy decisions have to emanate from the Cabinet. No doubt the subordinate structure, too, is designated to discharge its duty of implementing policies and decisions of the Cabinet. However, discharging the duties does notmean implementing decisions in an arbitrary manner as that amounts to misuse of power. The Service Rules clearly draw the boundary, which the subordinate bureaucratic structure has not to transgress. If that happens, it is tantamount to abuse and misuse of power which the service rules take into account.
We have had a standardized administrative culture in our State right from the times of the rule of the Maharajas. With the passage of time and after the shift to popular rule, the practice of maintaining administrative culture and traditions were strengthened and well grounded. The Cabinet, the Council of Ministers and the top bureaucratic echelons whether in charge of administration or the sector of law and order , one and all gave highest priority to cohesive and convergent administration from the level of policy framing down to the strata of policy implementing at district, tehsil and even nayabat levels. Foremost of all at stake are the prestige and status of senior as well as junior bureaucrats. An officer, especially of IAS, IPS and KAS cadre, commands an aura of authority which in ordinary idiom would be called the might and authority of the State. Two factors contribute exclusively to the enhancement of the prestige and status of a high ranking officer in the administration. These are the powers and authority bestowed upon them by the constitution and the practice and secondly his own calibre of proving his mettle. However, meeting out scurvy treatment to a high ranking officer by powers that be is tantamount to mockery of hierarchal authority culminating in the Cabinet.
We have instances to show that the malaise of lack of cohesion has crept into the entrails of administrative structure of the State. Established practices and norms are underrated perhaps to serve the ego of a minister or to make a blue eyed bureaucrat beneficiary of the largesse of his patrons at various positions in the entire ruling system. It could also be owing to simmering and hidden rivalry or ill will against a colleague or a fellow officer. We will cite an example only to elucidate the recognized philosophy of democratic governance. In 2010 the Cabinet formulated what is called Transfer Policy for the senior bureaucrats. This order lays down the rules and practices for ordering postings. In the Transfer Policy, the calendar for transfers, tenure of postings and powers have been delegated for making transfers and postings of officers of different level. The Policy states that the minimum tenure of a Government employee on a post shall be two years and a maximum of three years and the maximum tenure of posting in respect of important projects which are required to be completed in a time bound manner may be extended up to five years if continuation of any officer is considered necessary. These clear instructions notwithstanding, during the period between January 1, 2017 and September 29, 2017 (nine months), the Government has ordered transfers and postings of only 24 IAS and 21 KAS officers with the approval of the State Cabinet while as 41 IAS and 305 KAS officers including Secretaries to Government and above, HoDs, Managing Directors of PSUs, Deputy Commissioners and SSPs have been transferred without the approval of the Cabinet. What to say of allowing two year tenure to a freshly posted incumbent, some of them have been shifted even within two or three months of new posting without seeking the permission of the Cabinet. What does it show? It reflects that certain elements within the hierarchy are trying to make a mockery of the Cabinet order by subverting it with impunity. Naturally, vested interests are working somewhere and in some way to undermine recognized norms of posting senior officers at approved point of time and with the permission of the Cabinet. Maybe some Ministers are specifically interested in manipulating such unauthorized transfers an, prod choice postings by vandalizing rules, procedures and practices.
This is a very unhealthy trend and has to be stopped immediately. The Chief Minister has to convince herself that in the realm of good governance, no adviser and no advice is to be taken for granted. The bane of a democratic Government is sycophancy and there is no dearth of villains working at various levels to subvert good governance. A disgruntled and berated bureaucracy ultimately becomes a spike in the wheels of administration and thus contributing to the regress of the State. Time proven practices of administration should not be trivialized and thrown to winds as a result of a whim or caprice of a minister or a top bureaucrat.