Haryana IPS officer treated unfairly

Haryana IPS officer treated unfairly

The public spat between Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij and the Fatehabad Superintendent of Police Sangeeta Kalia, leading to the transfer of the senior police officer, has the potential to demoralise bureaucracy. Since the exchange of words happened spontaneously, it would have been ideal for the minister to back off and take up the issue when things cooled down. Vij’s diktat ordering the IPS rank officer to “get out” in front of her colleagues and the general public was totally uncalled for. It is but natural for a difference of opinion to crop up in the most unexpected of ways.

The minister had accused the police of being involved in the sale of alcohol by unauthorised persons in the district. He did not expect Kalia to rebut his charges. That is because over the years, most elected representatives have got it into their psyche that bureaucrats, including top police officials, should behave like their underlings and obey their every wish without ques-tions. If the elected representatives happen to be ministers, as in the present case, the expectations from the bureaucracy is that of a servant to a master. So, when Kalia disagreed with Vij, the minister could not swallow what he saw as her impertinence. Further, to have an officer answer back in front of his factotums was too much. The incident calls for a deeper introspection into the functioning of India’s bureaucracy and its relationship with its elected representatives. While there is no doubt that legislators and parliamentarians are elected by the people and should have a final say in how the country is run, senior bureaucrats should be shown the respect they deserve. For, politicians may come and go depending on their electoral fortunes, but bureaucrats signify continuity in administration and are a repository of accumulated knowledge having served several years in key positions.

Haryana Chief Minister Mano-har Lal Khattar, at least, could have examined the issue in a balanced manner. Transferring Kalia to an insignificant post was not fair. The punishment transfer will surely serve to hurt straight-talking officers. In the end, the quality of administration will suffer and people who look up to efficient services will have to make do with mediocrity. Minister Anil Vij should also have been conscious of two other factors – that Kalia was is woman officer and she is a Dalit. It is well acknowledged that both women and dalits don’t have it easy in administration. Considering the specific facts of the case, the Haryana chief minister should have played peace maker and resolved the differences between his minister and the senior officer instead of displaying his partisanship.
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