After Modi government came to power for the second time, many government officials were forcibly retired making headlines about Modi government’s zero tolerance towards inefficiency and corruption, but compulsory retirements for bureaucrats under Modi government is not a new phenomenon. In what reiterates the commitment of the Modi government towards ensuring that the bureaucracy remains clean and efficient, Modi government informed the Lok Sabha that a staggering number of 312 government officials were forcibly retired only in the last five years. This was disclosed in a written reply to the Lok Sabha, by Dr Jitendra Singh, MoS, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances. He said that Modi government had reviewed the performance of 36,000 Group A officials and more than 82,000 Group B government officials between July 2014 and May 2019. He also informed that 125 Group A officers 187 Group B officers were forcibly retired “on ground of lack of integrity and ineffectiveness in public interest”. Singh’s reply read, “As per the applicable disciplinary rule, the government has the right to proceed against corrupt officials on the basis of the available evidence.”
It is relevant to mention here that Modi government is empowered to forcibly retire bureaucrats on the ground of lack of integrity and ineffectiveness in public interest as per provisions of Fundamental Rules (FR) 56 (j) (i), rule 48 of Central Civil Services (CCS) pension rules 1972 and rule 16 (3) (amended) of All India Services. It must be noted that recently the DoPT had written to all ministries and government departments to recommend names of officials every month for compulsory retirement. An official at the DoPT said, “The government has already asked all ministries to recommend names for premature retirement by the 15th of every month and some names of IAS and IPS officers are already under the scanner.” The official added, “The government is very serious about getting rid of deadwood and corrupt officials from the service.”
The rule which allows the government to prematurely retire bureaucrats always existed, it was widely believed that the rule was rarely invoked in order to punish corrupt and inefficient bureaucrats. However, this perception clearly does not hold true ever since the Modi government took charge. The current dispensation under PM Modi has been regularly invoking this rule in order to prematurely retire blemished and underperforming bureaucrats. Recently, 15 senior customs officers occupying high-level ranks of Assistant Commissioners, Principal Commissioners or Commissioners. This had come merely a week after the government had forcibly retired 12 high-level officials of the Income Tax Department.
The Modi government seems to have taken a firm resolve to revolutionise Indian bureaucracy and its topmost priority is to rid the bureaucratic set up of inefficient, underperforming and corrupt officials in order to ensure that high standards of efficiency and performance can be maintained within the bureaucracy. Singh’s reply in the parliament corroborates the same. Indian bureaucracy, which is used to being embroiled in red-tape and corruption, needs to reinvent and Modi government’s way of punishing officials with compulsory retirement shall serve the purpose greatly.