Civil servants get some protection from 'punishment transfers'

Officers of India's three premier civil services - the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Police Service, and the Indian Forest Service - will now spend a minimum of two years in a posting before they can be transferred and any exception in the form of transfers or new appointments will only be done upon the recommendation of a civil services board, according to new rules aimed at checking political interference.

States have now been mandated to constitute a civil services board, which is to be headed by the chief secretary, to consider questions of transfer of the civil services officers, under new rules circulated by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) of the central government.

A cadre officer, appointed to any cadre post, shall hold the office for at least two years unless he or she is promoted, retired or sent on deputation outside the state or for training exceeding two months, the rules said.

''The centre or the state government ... may transfer a cadre officer before the minimum specified period on the recommendation of the Civil Services Board,'' the rules said. However, the competent authority may reject the recommendation of the Civil Services Board while recording the reasons for the rejection.

For transfer and postings of IAS officers, the board will have the senior-most additional chief secretary or chairman of the board of revenue or financial commissioner, or an officer of equivalent rank and status as member, and principal secretary or secretary of the department of personnel in the state government, as member secretary.

For the posting and transfer of Indian Police Service officers, the board will have two more members - principal secretary or Secretary, home, and the director general of police.

For Indian Forest Service officers as well, the board is to have two additional members - principal secretary or secretary, forests, and the state's principal chief conservator of forests.

''All appointments of cadre officers shall be made on the recommendation of the civil services board,'' state the rules, which were notified by the DoPT on Tuesday.

The move to amend the cadre rules follows directions from Supreme Court. Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL), the apex court had in a path-breaking judgement on 31 October 2013, directed the centre to ensure fixed tenure for bureaucrats.

"Repeated shuffling / transfer of officers is deleterious to good governance. Minimum assured service tenure ensures efficient service delivery and increased efficiency. They can also prioritise various social and economic measures intended for the poor and the marginalised sections," the court had held.

The Supreme Court had also asked the centre to set up boards for deciding transfers, postings and disciplinary action for civil servants within a period of three months until Parliament came up with a proper law for the creation of Civil Services Boards.