Transfers have become an industry: HC

Srinagar: Citing the transfer of about 1600 engineers in the past 18 months in PWD as an example, the high court said on Thursday that transfer of government employees has “assumed the status of an industry” whose “products and byproducts are not difficult to guess”.
Terming it as a “malaise”, a bench of Justice Hasnain Masoodi asked the government to constitute a committee with commissioner of Vigilance as one of its members.
The committee will look into the “circumstances” leading to transfers on such a massive scale, identify motives behind transfers and examine whether monetary considerations were the reason behind transferring officials.
“The committee shall recommend action, if any, to be taken against those responsible for promoting the malaise in the (public works) department,” it said and directed government to file compliance report by next date of hearing on May 19.
The court made these directions after the chief secretary informed it that 849 transfers had been made in the PWD during 2013 and 737 in the first half of 2014—which means five engineers were transferred each day.
In July last year, the court had asked the chief secretary to file an affidavit detailing the number of transfers in PWD from January 2013 to 30 June 2014.
The court said that transfers at this pace “may very well be a reason for failure” in undertaking timely relief and rehabilitation work after 2014 floods
“The engineers in most of the cases might not have been confident whether they continue to hold the position a day after the floods that they held a day before the floods or were transferred in the meantime,” it said.
The situation, the court observed, has deteriorated to such an extent that a blue-eyed assistant engineer sometimes ends up becoming a chief engineer after gaining three or four consecutive promotions.
“The ad hocism promotes bitterness amongst the ranks. Engineers also get involved in litigation instead of utilizing their time and resources on projects of public importance,” the court said, adding, “no one appears to have the will to stem the rot.”
In February last year, the court had pulled up the government over rampant ad hocism, observing that it plagues most of the departments of the state.
However, it has said that the “malaise” affects the Public Works Department the most.
“The officers at the level of administrative department and in the office of chief engineers of Hydraulic and Roads and Buildings and UEED appear to have developed a vested interest in ad hocism.”
The ad hocism, the court said, was a method used by officials to disregard seniority and promote favourtism.
The court had in July last year observed that while the officers have no time to end the ad hocism and making promotions on merit, they appear to have plenty of time at hand to effect transfers.