THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An analysis of the average tenure for senior bureaucrats in the state has shown that the decision taken by the state government in May 2014 for ensuring fixed two-year tenure for officers, based on a Supreme Court order, has remained only in papers.

Data from the ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions show that the average tenure for the officials of the rank of secretary and above in a post has been only 11 months, while that of junior officials, including district collectors and directors of various departments, have been worse at just seven months.

The state‘s frequent shuffling of its top administrative officials and failure to implement the civil service board (CSB), which was supposed to make recommendations on posting of officers and protect them from indiscriminate transfers on the whims of politicians, is in gross violation of the Supreme Court‘s order on October 31, 2013, in TSR Subrahamanian and others vs Union of India and others.

The case was fought by TSR Subrahmanian, former cabinet secretary and 82 other former civil servants to ensure a fixed tenure and independent functioning for senior policy makers.

The analysis of data from the state covering 118 ranging from officials of 1984 batch to those till 2014, has found that in 80% cases, the officials were denied a fixed tenure as stipulated in the sub-rule 3 of the rule 2 of Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Amendment Rules, 2014.

The rule says that the officer appointed to any cadre posts shall hold the officer for at least two years unless in the meantime they are promoted, retired or sent on deputation outside the state or on training for more than two months.

“The art of policy making is a long-drawn process and the secretaries have a major role in framing the policy by political executives who have only run-of-the-mill knowledge of policy matters. If officers are shuffled frequently, the policy suffers. In the case of officials at cutting edge level, in addition to administrative issues, their families also suffer as they are made to move from place to place frequently. But the Centre ensures a fixed tenure to officials who are on deputation,” said former chief secretary Jiji Thomson.

Interestingly, when TOI sought the details of tenure of IAS officials from the general administration department in the state, the department replied that the data was not available with the state government.

The statutory civil service board, which has to decide on all transfers, had met only twice in 2015 and thereafter was fully disbanded. The CSB is a three-member board chaired by the chief secretary and consists of the senior-most additional chief secretary and secretary of personnel and administrative reforms department.

“As per the amended rules, the minimum tenure of officers can be curtailed by the cabinet only on the recommendation of the CSB and even if it is overruling its recommendations, it has to do so by recording the reasons in writing. It would enable the officers to approach a competent authority like the administrative tribunal if they feel their transfers are unjustified,” a senior IAS official said.

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