Kolkata: The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal on Friday slammed the Centre’s order making vigilance clearance mandatory for offering post-retirement jobs to bureaucrats, calling it an attempt to impose more control on government organisations and bureaucrats.
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), in an order issued on Thursday, said all government organisations have to seek clearance before offering post-retirement jobs to bureaucrats. Signed by officer on special duty Rajiv Verma, the three-page document was sent to all central ministries, public sector units, banks and autonomous bodies.
“The central government came up with such an order because it has failed on all fronts. This is an attempt to impose more control on government organisations and bureaucrats,” said TMC Rajya Sabha member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy.
BJP West Bengal vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar said, “This is a process to ensure that bureaucrats, who take the oath to protect the interests of the nation and follow the code of official secrecy in regard to state and national security, follow the rules.”
The order, which HT has seen, was issued two days after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee employed the state’s former chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay as her special adviser on May 31, the day he retired, amid a tussle with Centre. Bandopadhyay, who was given a three-month extension following an appeal by the state, but was asked to report for duty at the North Block office of the department of training and personnel on his last working day.
Banerjee refused to release the retiring bureaucrat and the Centre sent him a show cause letter, accusing him of violating Section 51 (b) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, by not attending the meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Kalaikunda on May 28 to review damages done by Cyclone Yaas. Banerjee, accompanied by the bureaucrat, had met Modi during the meeting, but left in a few minutes.
Bandopadhyay joined duty on June 1 on a three-year contract and replied to the show cause letter on Thursday.
The CVC, India’s apex anti-corruption body for government officials and which was formed in the mid-1960s, has said that accepting a job offer without completion of a mandatory cooling-off period will amount to “serious misconduct.”
“It has been observed that sometimes government organisations, in order to meet their functional requirements, use the expertise of retired government officials by hiring them on contractual basis, in the capacity of advisor/consultant etc. There is no defined procedure for seeking vigilance inputs before engaging the retired officials….,” said the CVC order. It said this may lead to situations where people with tainted past and having cases pending against them are engaged by a government organisation.
The order said that before re-employing retired officers belonging to All India Services of Group ‘A’ and other officers of the central government, vigilance clearance from the employer organisation is mandatory. It may be noted that although IAS and IPS officers work in the states, they are recruited and trained by the Centre.
The order says that the prescribed cooling-off period is often not adhered to. “In case a retired officer had served in more than one organisation, vigilance clearance should be obtained from all organisations where the retired officer had served during a period of 10 years prior to his retirement,” said the order.
“Post retirement acceptance of offer by retired government officials without observing cooling off period constitutes a serious misconduct,” it said.
The order has also asked all government organisations to formulate rules and guidelines so that the cooling-off period is mandatorily observed before any offer from the private sector is accepted.
West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has in the recent past raised questions about re-employment of retired IAS and IPS officers by the TMC government. He wrote several letters to the state administration inquiring about such officers, including Surajit Purakayastha, who was appointed as security adviser to the state after retiring as director general of police. Purakayastha’s contract ended recently.
Jawhar Sircar, the former Prasar Bharati CEO who served both the state and the Centre, said, “The order is quite distressing because a lot of retired officers are completely distressed with what is going on in India. The serving officers are not in a position to open up their mouth and they should not as the rules do not allow them to speak their heart. Therefore on behalf of the huge bureaucracy the retired officers are speaking up. Hence, new methods are being devised to shoot these messengers.”