Table of Contents
THE CONTEXT: The recent circular issued by the ruling government at centre mentions deploying of government officers as rath prabharis. It is being done for celebrating the achievements of the last nine years of the government through the ‘Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra’ from November 20 to January 25 which draws criticism.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS RELATED TO CIVIL SERVICES
• As per Articles 53 and 154, the executive power of the Union and the States vests in the President or Governor directly or through officers subordinate to him. These officers constitute the permanent civil service and are governed by Part XIV of the Constitution (Services under the Union and States (Article 308- 323)).
• Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules: The manner in which the officers are required to help the President or Governor to exercise his/her executive functions is governed by these Rules.
• Article 309: Powers of Parliament and state legislatures – It empowers the Parliament and the State legislature regulate the recruitment, and conditions of service of persons appointed, to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State respectively.
• Article 310: Doctrine of Pleasure – Every person of Defence service, Civil Service and All India Service holding any post connected with the above services holds office during the pleasure of the President or Governor of the State.
RULES FOR CIVIL SERVANTS
Civil servants are governed under two sets of rules for the two types of services. These rules were framed based on recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by K.Santhanam. They are
1. The All India Services (AIS) Conduct Rules, 1968
2. Central Civil Services (CCS) Conduct Rules, 1964
• The historical context: On June 12, 1975, the Allahabad high court famously found the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, guilty of misusing official machinery in the Congress party’s election campaign, leading to her disqualification from contesting any election for six years in a row. The current ruling government went against emergency and worked for restoring democracy. However, ironically, it is doing the work on similar lines.
• Violating model code of conduct: The circular were issued when the model code of conduct had already come into force and, as such, they amount to its brazen infringement, as they place the ruling government at an advantage vis-à-vis the political parties in opposition. This amounts to misuse of government machinery for activity that will influence elections.
• Blurring lines between civil services and politics: Using senior civil servants and defence personnel in special campaigns improperly in the context of electoral politics is blurring the line between civil service and politics. It is a matter of serious concern of mis-deployment of officers of the defence Forces for showcasing the current government’s achievements.
• Violation of Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964: It is a clear violation of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, which directs that no government servant shall take part in any political activity. It is not acceptable to turn government officers into political affairs.
• Politicisation of soldiers: Ministry of Defence has issued guidelines to set up selfie points to ‘showcase good works being done’ and various schemes of the Central government by soldiers. Though the intention behind this initiative may be genuine but compelling the soldiers may not be in the interest of the institutional integrity of the armed forces.
THE WAY FORWARD:
• Facilitating democracy: The civil servants play a vital role in maintaining the democratic ideals by assisting their political heads (Ministers) in policy-making function and in implementing the policies made. But they should not be employed for a single party to ensure democratic character of the country.
• Independent and non-politicisation: It is essential that government machinery is kept out of politics and be independent for effective implementation of policies. Civil servant should actively participate in policy formulation and implementation by giving advice to ministers and providing them the necessary information.
• Socio economic development: Both government and bureaucrats must work for socio economic development of the nation for welfare goals by addressing the issues. It should be ensured to develop a sense of nationhood to serve the country that should be completely unbiased.
The politicisation of civil servants and soldiers is not acceptable in a democratic country like India, and they must be kept independent and non-political. To protect our democracy and constitution, it is imperative that the orders must be withdrawn immediately.
PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTION
Resorting to ordinances has always raised concern on violation of the spirit of separation of powers doctrine. While noting the rationales justifying the power to promulgate ordinances, analyze whether the decisions of the Supreme Court on the issue have further facilitated resorting to this power. Should the power to promulgate ordinances be repealed? (2015)
MAINS PRACTICE QUESTION
Politicization of bureaucracy defeats the bureaucrats’ primary purpose of providing non-partisan and efficient administration. Comment.