Officers of the three premier services -- Indian Administrative Services, Indian Police Service and Indian Foreign Service -- will now spend a minimum of two years at each posting 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 said civil services officers.
For transfer and postings of Indian Administrative Service officers, the board will have the senior-most Additional Chief Secretary or Chairman, 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, Forest, and the state's Principal Chief Conservator of Forest.
"All appointments of cadre officers shall be made on the recommendation of the civil services Board," state the rules, which were notified by the Ministry of Personnel on Tuesday.
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 specify.
However, the competent authority may reject the recommendation of the Civil Services Board by recording the reasons for the same.
The move to amend the cadre rules follows directions from Supreme Court. Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, the Apex court had in a path-breaking judgement on October 31, 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," SC had held.
SC 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.
The three-month deadline given by the apex court ends on Friday.
The judgement had followed on the heels of controversies related to Haryana-cadre IAS officer Ashok Khemka and UP-cadre IAS officer Durga Sakthi Nagpal who had been penalised by the state government for alleged misconduct.
The apex court had passed the verdict on the PIL filed by 83 retired bureaucrats, including former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian, seeking directions to the Centre to insulate the bureaucracy from political interference.
"This is the first step. Many things need to be done. Many important beginnings have been made, including Lokpal. This notification should mark the beginning of a new era of good governance," Subramanian said.
With respect to transfers, the state civil services board will consider the report of the Administrative Department along with any other inputs and also obtain the views of the officer who is proposed to be transferred.
It will not make recommendations for premature transfer of cadre officers unless it has been satisfied itself of the reasons for the proposal, the rules add.
"The civil services board shall submit a quarterly report in such form as it thinks fit to the central government clearly stating the details of officers recommended for transfer before the minimum specified tenure and the reasons (for that)," the rules state.
So far, IAS, IPS and IFoS officers could be transferred by the states as per their requirements. The process was vulnerable to political interference and often described as being arbitrary by non-government organisations and the officers themselves.