SC declines plea for bureaucrats' cooling-off period
The Supreme Court Friday declined a petition seeking direction to the government to observe a cooling-off period of two years before a retired senior civil servant is offered re-employment with the government.
The apex court bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Ranjan Gogoi, turning down the PIL plea as withdrawn, said it was for the competent authorities to decide on the re-employment of a retiring civil servant. "How can court issue directions?"
Senior counsel Harish Salve, who appeared for PIL petitioner Prakash Singh, told the court there were existing rules providing for cooling-off period but these were not being adhered to.Salve told the court he was seeking guidelines on the cooling-off period so there could be transparency in the matter of appointment at senior levels.
The court said the petitioner, who is a former police chief, could make a representation to the government to air his grievances and added that the court cannot issue directions on the issue.
"Suppose if someone (retired bureaucrat) is an expert, it is for the man who is dealing with the situation to decide," said Chief Justice Sathasivam.
Prakash Singh sought the direction that no civil servant who has less than one year of service left before retirement should be considered for a post that has a fixed tenure of two years.The petitioner also sought court direction that no senior ranking civil servant, holding the position of secretary or that of additional secretary, should be considered for re-employment either with the central or state governments involving financial interest for two years from the date of their retirement.
The PIL sought declaration that the part of the May 29, 2006, notification by the ministry of personnel that "does not conform to the principles necessary to secure the independence of the civil service and is illegal, null and void".
The notification that provides for grant of extensions on a "case-to-case basis" confers unfettered discretion on the central government to "favour" or "penalise" individuals holding the above-named positions by extending or restricting their tenure, the PIL said.
The PIL also sought clamp-down on the bureaucrats from accepting employment with the private business houses they had dealt with in their official capacity for two years after their retirement.
The petition said provision of giving extension on case-to-case basis was being "grossly abused" in the case of top ranking bureaucrats, including cabinet secretary, defence secretary, home secretary, director of the intelligence bureau, Research and Analysis Wing secretary, and director of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The PIL said exception could only be made in the case of a deserving officer who falls short of the fixed tenure, and the appointment of such officer is in public interest.