To End ‘Sifarish’ Culture, Indian Govt Issues Memo to Officials Seeking Political Help for Transfers


DECEMBER 5, 2021

The Centre has taken a serious view of government officials taking political help while seeking inter-cadre transfers, and has issued a memorandum underlining that it is a violation of the existing rules and can invite disciplinary action.

In an office memorandum issued on December 3, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) stated that government officials have been putting in numerous inter-cadre transfer requests to attached or outstation offices of various ministries and departments on personal or medical grounds.

It said the requests are being received from government officials in the grade of Assistant Section Officers (ASOs) in Central Secretariat Service (CSS), which is one of the central civil services.

It further said the requests of ASOs were being forwarded several times by ministers, Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha MPs or other designated authority for their “favorable consideration”.

The memorandum also stated such a conduct is a violation of Rule 20 of CCS (Conduct Rules), 1964, which states that no government servant shall bring or attempt to bring any political or other outside influence to bear upon any superior authority to further his interests in respect of matters pertaining to his service under the government.

“The competent authority has taken a serious view in the matter. It is informed that all such acts will invite appropriate action including disciplinary action as per extant rules in all such cases,” the OM stated.

‘Sifarish Culture is Common’

According to senior bureaucrats, seeking political intervention for transfers and postings are rampant in all governments — from junior to senior civil servants—even as the rules explicitly say otherwise.

They say many of these requests from political figures come verbally, and are not necessarily put on paper.

KBS Sidhu, a Punjab-cadre IAS officer of the 1984 batch, who recently retired as Punjab special chief secretary told News18 that this and a similar rule in the All India Services Rules has been in existence since inception.

“However, it is honoured more in breach than in observance,” he said.

Sidhu explained that the objective of this provision is to ensure that a civil servant does not compromise his neutrality and objectivity, by getting to canvass the support of elected representatives or other political personalities.

“While MPs/MLAs may sometimes give their written recommendations, far more common is the telephonic “sifarish” culture and, of course, those rare but important cases where they themselves seek personal conference with the decision-making authority to put forth their “personal” recommendation,” he said.

He further said the latest DoPT circular may deter the meek ones but may not put to an end a practice which is widespread, if not rampant.

Courtesy: News18