Taming and Shaming the Bureaucracy

(Syed Fawad Ali Shah, )

In the common man's eye the word bureaucrat means a person who is a government officer with all powers and privileges. To some extent this perception is not wrong in toto yet Encyclopedia Britannica defines Bureaucracy as a specific form of organization defined by complexity, division of labour, permanence, professional management, hierarchical coordination and control, strict chain of command, and legal authority. In its ideal form, bureaucracy is impersonal and rational and based on rules rather than ties of kinship, friendship, or patrimonial or charismatic authority. This view is further elaborated by the German sociologist Max Weber who opines the advantage of bureaucracy as the most technically proficient form of organization, possessing specialized expertise, certainty, continuity, and unity. But Another German Philosopher and Sociologist Karl Marx views it differently. He calls bureaucracy " a circle from which no one can escape. Its hierarchy is a hierarchy of knowledge. The top entrusts the understanding of detail to the lower levels, whilst the lower levels credit the top with understanding of the general and so all are mutually deceived". It seems that the incumbent PTI government under the premiership of Imran Khan firmly believes in the opinion of Karl Marx regarding bureaucracy. The federal government has promulgated new rules for bureaucrat a called the Civil Servants (Directory Retirement from Service) Rules, 2020. The government has issued these under section 25(1) of The Civil Servants Act 1973. This has created a complete unrest among all the echelons of bureaucracy. The different service organizations of bureaucrats have showed their dismay over these newly promulgated rules. A careful perusal of these rules show that not only they have been drafted in haste but rather they have callously let down the most important part of the executive organ of the state. The definition part has explained for the first time the term "conduct unbecoming" in a most grotesque manner. It says "conduct unbecoming means the conduct on the part of à civil servant that is contrary to public interests or which harms his standing or the standing of the civil service in the eyes of the public or is contrary to any prescribed law/ rułes/ procedures/ instructions and includes inefficiency on his part necessitating his directory retirement under these rules;". If this formula of harming a civil servant's standing in the eyes of the public is to be applied then principles of natural justice demand that there should be a well defined procedure to gauge the said standing. The only possible way is to hold a public opinion poll and that too on a very transparent and all inclusive manner. Only through such vote or referendum a civil servant's standing in the eyes of the public can be measured accurately. Directory Retirement is a sort of punishment, which cannot be inflicted upon a Civil Servant without holding proper inquiry .it is against the Article 10-A of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan which ensures "Right to Fair Trial". The term "conduct unbecoming", is a form of allegation, which has to be substantiate after due course and due process of law. The authors of the above rules have forgot to consult The Government Servants (Efficiency And Discipline) Rules 1973 where the same major punishment is already available under the head of compulsory Retirement. Directory Retirement is a sort of punishment, which cannot be inflicted upon a Civil Servant without holding proper inquiry .it is against the Article 10-A of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan which ensures "Right to Fair Trial". The term "conduct unbecoming", is a form of allegation, which has to be substantiate after due course and due process of law. The authors of the above rules have forgot to consult The Government Servants (Efficiency And Discipline) Rules 1973 where the same major punishment is already available under the head of compulsory Retirement. The rule 5(a) of these new rules explains another ground for retirement as getting Average Performance Evaluation Reports or adverse remarks have been recorded in 3 or more PERs from three different officers, for a period not less than six months and have attained finality. This is again a self contradictory clause as the minimum period to get aPER has been prescribed as three months by the Estacode. It is very funny how a civil servant can have 3 PERs in six months when the minimum period is fixed at three. It shows the rules were drafted without applying a prudent mind. The same Rule 5 has declared that it will be a ground for retirement If a civil servant is guilty of corruption or entered into plea bargain or voluntary return with NAB or any other investigating agency. Now it speaks volumes of incompetence on the part of drafting mind of these rules that only NAB has the powers of Plea Bargain or Voluntary Return. Neither FIA or provincial Anti corruption Establishment has been granted such powers. So the very term "or any other investigating agency" is totally hilarious. One ground for retirement is explained as if a Civil Servant has not been recommended for promotion by the concerned selection board or committee then he has to face "Directory Retirement". However, this ground is against the Established principles of law, as if one is not recommended for promotion, then there can be various reasons which can be such circumstances beyond control of that civil servant. For example an officer may on long leave, may be he is on some deputation assignment abroad or simply some sort of shortage of PERS. All these points suggest that this ground for retirement is as Shakey as the entire theme behind these rules. The most vulnerable class of bureaucrats at the receiving end will be of Ex-cadre government officers. The powerful groups of Pakistan Administrative Services and Police will try to grab main role in those committees or Boards established under these rules thereby becoming absolute authoritarian. It's a million dollar question who will define the very vague term "Public Interest". The most striking drawback in these rules is lack of affording the right of proper enquiry to a civil servant which is again contrary to the Article 10-A of the Constitution. This will be really interesting to see the final of these new rules once they are challenged before the superior courts which has established principles and precedents regarding such type of draconian legislation. The best way is to turn the system of bureaucracy on the basis of incentives and performance instead of naming and shaming them to tame bureaucracy to the tunes of rulers.
The writer is a senior Journalist He can be reached at [email protected] Mobile No, +60109301521

 

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