Civil Servants Vs. Rude Masters

Civil servants turn out to be rude masters” 

– Lloyd George, Prime Minister of the U.K. – 1916-1922

A transparent Transfer Policy was brought into existence in the ESI Corporation on 17.03.2005 which ensured fairness and struck a balance  between public interest and private needs of the public servants. But, for quite some time, this Policy had been thrown to the winds and transfers are ordered as per the arbitrary decisions of the persons who have power or role to influence the decision. The Rule of Law is not allowed to prevail.

As a result, the officers have again developed the tendency to do anything to please the persons who matter. The consequential victim is the office work. Some officers are subjected to frequent transfers and the all-India transfer liability is held out against them to justify those  transfers. Many others are not transferred for a long time in violation of the principles of transfers and in  violation of the same transfer policy and all-India transfer liability. Many sub-regions are without administrative heads and many important posts in many regions are vacant, because of non-enforcement of transfer policy.

If a person is posted to a place there must be reason for it. If a person is transferred from that place within a short while, there must be a reason for that too and the Administration must explain why, at all, in the first place the original posting was made. The rights of an individual cannot be pooh-poohed by people who exercise the powers vested in them in an arbitrary manner while at them same time manage to avoid transfers for themselves. Every transfer is watched by the other officers and they would get negative signals if the apparent and the hidden reasons differ from each other. It would be better for the Administration to put in place only the transparent Transfer Policy which is applicable to all the officers without any exception.

Otherwise, the suspicion of the public that the internal Administrative Procedure of the ESI Corporation abets only favouritism and corruption will get confirmed.  A civil servant posted in the Administration Branch  or is vested with examining the cases of transfers will find it difficult to submit proper proposals in the absence of  transfer policy. Creating situation to exercise arbitrary powers or to condone the exercise of such arbitrary powers would convert the civil servants into rude masters.  The Fairness Committees, when they functioned, did not render justice because there were no guidelines for them too in the matters of proposal for transfers.

Absence of uniformity, predictability and universality in transfers in public services will make the people in the Administration Wing feel that they are supreme and above law and above their own colleagues. They would develop the tendency to violate law and make other public servants who are not working in the Administration Wing suffer. The dark side of the Administration in every public organisation is removed only when a transparent transfer policy is enforced. Hope the ESIC will take a turn for the better, at least, henceforth. There must be some assurance to the officers about the period of stay in a particular place of posting so that they can plan their personal life accordingly.

In Mohambaram vs. Jayavelu , reported in AIR 1970 Mad 63 at page 73, the Hon’ble High Court of Madras had made the following remarks:

There is no such thing as absolute or untrammeled discretion, the nursery of despotic power, in a democracy based on the rule of law.

More on it in :

“Government servants shall … also be transferred from one work to another, so that they cannot either misappropriate government money or vomit what they had eaten up”.

– Chanakya  (Page 71 – Arthasasthra – Dr. Shama Sastry -Mysore Printing and Publishing House).


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