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The Indian Information Service (IIS) officers have knocked at the doors of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to protest their “mindless” mass transfers by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, particularly of officers nearing retirement.
In a recent letter to the PMO, the IIS Group 'A' Officers Association expressed concern that the head of their service was neither consulted before these transfer orders were issued nor when portfolios allocated. The association has asked for a review of the recent transfer orders.
In the letter, association president Anindya Sengupta said the mass transfers have not only violated laid down procedures, but have also hurt the efficient functioning of the media units of the I&B ministry and the morale of the officers.
The Indian Information Service (IIS) Group 'A' officers Association represents the interests of serving Group 'A' IIS officers, who are the communication managers of the Union Government. Headquartered in New Delhi, IIS officers are posted across the country to spread the message of the Centre’s policies and programmes. IIS Group 'A' officers are selected through a Union Public Service Examination (UPSC).
The letter stated that the I&B Ministry has issued transfer orders that have affected a fourth of the IIS cadre. Sengupta said nearly 140 officers out of less than 500 group 'A' officers have been issued transfer orders in recent months.
Sengupta said the association acknowledges the Centre’s prerogative to deploy officers as per its requirements and also its identified thrust areas. But he pointed out that the mass transfers contravened laid down rules and procedures.
He said the transfers contravened the I&B Ministry's own personnel policy for IIS officers, issued on January 31, 2014. Sengupta said. “The transfers have affected not only the efficient and effective functioning of the Media units but also the morale of the cadre Officers.”
The letter admitted that the reorganization was mooted by the association itself, but the “current impasse has been created completely because of Ministry’s refusal to consult IIS officers at any level.” Sengupta said almost all Group 'A' services manage their own cadre. “It is unfortunate that the Ministry of I&B has not only failed to officially give this responsibility to the IIS officers, but in recent months, has also stopped the informal consultation process.”
He said the head of the service, Principal Director General Frank Noronha, wasn’t consulted either on the question of mass transfers or allocation of portfolios, which in any organisation is the prerogative of the head of the department. “This has seriously undermined the existing chain of command in the organization. It is difficult to understand how organizational alignment and coherence could be maintained under such circumstances,” the letter said.
While the association has raised several issues, the nub of the problem is transfer of officers who are less than a year from retirement and those posted in ‘hard stations’, like the northeast and Jammu and Kashmir, not being given less onerous postings after a stint in these states.
The association said in its letter that there exist elaborate DoPT guidelines on transfer of officers on the verge of retirement, and posting of officers in the same station in case the spouse is also in the government service. It said instructions for not disturbing officers very frequently and giving a reasonable tenure have also been disregarded. “Individual officers were called from all over the country, but each was given less than a minute to interact with the Minister and Secretary. This also appears to be a wastage of public funds,” Sengupta said.
The letter also said personal circumstances of officers transferred should have been considered, for example of single parents. The letter claimed officers have been transferred to cities – Agra, Moradabad and Shimoga – where the ministry is yet to create a proper infrastructure, including office space. This, the letter stated, was not only a wastage of public funds, but also poor management when media units in Delhi have shortage of manpower.
1. Officers on verge of retirement transferred:
According to the letter, DoPT guidelines say that an officer on the verge of retirement (12 to 24 months) should not be disturbed.
Those transferred are:
Esther Kar, Director General (DG), to retire on March 31 – transferred to Bhopal from New Delhi, while her husband is posted in Delhi
K Muthu Kumar, DG, to retire on March 31 – transferred from Chennai to Mumbai
AK Saxena, DG, to retire on July 31 – transferred from New Delhi to Kolkata
MVVS Murthy, DG, to retire on July 31 – transferred from Hyderabad to Chennai
2. Letter gives several instances of officers transferred to states whose local language they do not understand, an essential prerequisite in communications field
3. It has also given instances of frequent transfers of some officers (within a year of the previous posting)