Post Mortem

Budget deficit vis –a –vis backdoor appointments in Nagaland

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/17/2020 12:40:50 PM IST

 (From previous issue)

The successive State Governments had made attempts to control backdoor appointments in the state without any positive result till date. For the first time, the State Government had issued Office Memorandum No.AR-5/ASSO/98(C), dated 26-02-2001, which had laid down the revised procedure for appointment in Government. All appointments shall be made strictly in accordance with existing rules, either through NPSC, through open advertisement or through Employment Exchange. All ad hoc/ casual/ temporary/ work-charged appointments were banned. Any contract appointment made on extreme urgency with reasons and justification, it shall not be made exceeding one year and timely requisitions of posts to NPSC etc. The State Government had issued Office Memorandum No.AR-3/Gen-174(Pt), dated 13-01-2010, it was noticed by the Government that a number of unauthorized appointments have been made by certain Head of the Departments on the eve of retirement without following prescribed procedures. The Government has taken a decision for cancellation of all those irregular appointments, to initiate criminal proceedings against the guilty officials and to withhold pensionary benefits. It was an empty formality since there is no record to show that such actions had been initiated against the guilty officials. The State Government further issued the Office Memorandum No. PAR-B/3/2005, dated 21-07-2011.The State Government relying upon the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Uma Devi Vs State of Kerala, 2006 (4)SCC 1, had reiterated its earlier Office Memorandum dated 26-02-2001 and further directed that all recruitments to the posts carrying a scale of pay of Rs.4125 to 6475/-, revised Pay Band of Rs.5200-20200/- P.M shall be conducted through the NPSC. However, the State Government as a benevolent employer had also formulated a policy for regularization of all contract/ad hoc appointments who had completed a minimum service of 5 years and above by the Memorandum No.AR-5/ASSO/98, dated 18-02-2004. Thereafter, in partial modification, by the Office Memorandum No.AR-5/ASSO/98, dated 04-08-2008, regularization was extended to three years continuous service. It is pertinent to state that while the Apex Court in Uma Devi(Supra) had declared all adhoc/ contract appointments as violative of Article 14 & 16 of the Constitution, an exception was made in paragraph 53, whereby the state and its instrumentalities were allowed a one - time measures to formulate a scheme to regularize all the irregularly appointed who have worked for ten years or more in duly sanctioned posts etc.
In view of rampant back door appointments in spite of the Office Memorandums dated 26-02-2001 &21-07-2011, the ACAUT had filed PIL No.11 (K) of 2015 seeking a direction for terminations of all back door appointees, to initiate regular appointments process and to punish the erring officials. Accordingly, the State Government had issued Office Memorandum No.AR-5/ASSO/98, dated 06-06-2016 to ban appointment on contract/ ad hoc/casual/temporary basis and reiterated its earlier Office Memorandum dated 26-02-2001. The Chief Secretary had filed an Affidavit in PIL No.11 (K) of 2015, giving a solemn undertaking on behalf of the state that henceforth no ad hoc/casual/contract/temporary appointments in the state. Accordingly, the Hon’ble High Court had closed the PIL No.11(K) of 2015 by the Order dated 05-08-2016 upon the undertaking of the government with liberty to the PIL petitioner. In another related case, the Hon’ble High Court in W.P (C) No.145(K) of 2017, by a judgment and order dated 03-03-2018 had observed that the Office Memorandum dated 04-08-2008 for regularization of three years continuous adhoc/contract/temporary service was in violations of Articles 14 & 16 of the Constitution. It was re-affirmed by the Division Bench of the Hon’ble High Court by the Order dated 07-02-2019 in W.A No.16(K) of 2018 upon appeal filed by the State. 
However, the State Government continues to flagrantly violates its own orders/instructions on backdoor appointments inspite of the solemn undertaking on behalf of the State Government through a sworn Affidavit filed in PIL No.11 (K) of 2015. In fact, the State Government is in clear contempt of its own commitment /undertaking on oath before the Court. This is clearly proved in the answer to Starred Question No.28 replied on 14-02-2020 during the 5th Session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly, where the it was admitted that 62 appointments were made in the Housing Department without interview from 01-04-2018 till date. The ultimatum given by the Naga Tribal Union Chumoukedima Town(NTUCT) against the alleged back door appointments of 925 Police Constables, Starred Question No.30 answered on 14-02-2020,with regard to appointments of Sub Inspectors without interview. These are just few examples recently on public domain and only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, almost all the Departments in Nagaland had rampantly violated the Office Memorandum dated 06-06-2016 with impunity at the cost of the deserving educated unemployed. The NSF had demanded for the establishment of a subordinate services recruitment board. However, the State Government is yet to establish the same.
The backdoor appointments/unreasonable government employments are directly responsible for astronomical increase in budget deficits directly impacting the developments in the state. It directly affects the lives of the common people since their entitlements are diverted for payment of salaries. Backdoor appointments are real social menace causing social tensions and heart burns in view of nepotism and favoritism. It is fair to comment that the backdoor appointments are purchasable commodities in the state at the cost of merit, transparency and where justice and fairness are trampled. In order to maintain justice, transparency and the regain public faith in the system, there should be an independent impartial investigation with necessary remedial measures. With due respect, there could be a conflict of interests for state investigating agencies. Whether the Office Memorandums dated 26-02-2001, 13-01-2010, 27-07-2011 and 06-06-2016 were empty formalities to hoodwink the people. Whether, the solemn Affidavit of the Chief Secretary on behalf of the State Government filed in PIL No.11(K) of 2015 was just a ploy to escape the scrutiny of the Court. Whether the State Government shall continue to make appointments through backdoors. Whether the State Government shall terminate all back door appointments presently serving on contract/adhoc/temporary and especially the appointments made after 06-06-2016after observing the due process of law and make recruitments strictly in accordance with the Rules. Whether the State Government is willing to conduct an independent investigation through the CBI. Whether the State Government have the political will to immediately establish a subordinate services recruitment board. These are serious questions which requires immediate answers from the State Government on public interest. Let us hope and pray that the people who are in responsible positions and people in power shall walk the talk before it is too late. 
Taka Masa Ao, Ex-MLA

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