Sack­ing of Babus Sig­nals Crack­down on Lag­gards

Rule 56J in­voked af­ter over 30 years to re­view per­for­mance

The Economic Times - - Economy - Deepshikha.Sikar­war @times­group.com

New Delhi: The re­cent sack­ing of 15 cus­toms and cen­tral ex­cise per­son­nel, in­clud­ing two at the level of com­mis­sioner, could mark a wa­ter­shed in the an­nals of In­dia’s civil ser­vices. A lit­tle-used rule has been em­ployed to send a sig­nal that poor per­for­mance could be a fir­ing of­fence.

Rule 56J of the fun­da­men­tal rules un­der the depart­ment of per­son­nel and train­ing was last used by the Cen­tral Board of Ex­cise and Cus­toms in 1985. The rule au­tho­rises the gov­ern­ment to re­view the per­for­mance of an em­ployee who is 50 years old or has com­pleted 35 years of ser­vice. The gov­ern­ment wanted to set an ex­am­ple and show that it will keep close tabs on per­for­mance and that any slop­pi­ness won't be tol­er­ated, said peo­ple aware of the mat­ter.

In­dian gov­ern­ment posts are gen­er­ally re­garded as jobs for life and the few civil ser­vants who do get sacked are ei­ther whis­tle blow­ers or egre­giously cor­rupt — non-per­for­mance is al­most never an is­sue. How­ever, the lat­est de­ci­sion was based on per­for­mance re­views and didn't from any spe­cific vig­i­lance ac­tion.

A se­nior CBEC of­fi­cial said an elab­o­rate re­view had been un­der­taken be­fore the of­fi­cials were sacked. The dis­missals took place in the past few days. “Per­for­mance re­view was a two-lay­ered process,” he said. The re­views were con­ducted by pan­els at CBEC and depart­ment of rev­enue and they closely ex­am­ined the track record of each of­fi­cial. The depart­ment of rev­enue panel was headed by the rev­enue sec­re­tary. The move may mark a step to­ward im­ple­ment­ing a ‘per­form or per­ish’ cul­ture in gov­ern­ment of­fices no­to­ri­ous for their in­ef­fi­ciency and propen­sity to ha­rass cit­i­zens, al­though there are some ex­cep­tions to this rule.

To be sure, such dis­missals can be chal­lenged in ad­min­is­tra­tive tri­bunals.

ANIR­BAN

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