Monday, August 8, 2022

Giving rules the slip

After around 21 days of agitation, the Nagaland Assembly Secretariat Staff Association (NASSA)/Joint Action Committee, called off its stir after the retired and reemployed secretary Nagaland Legislative Assembly Dr.P.J. Alexander resigned thereby ending the stalemate. The issue raised by the NASSA was based on facts that exposed the degree of injustice that the state government was willing to commit in order to promote nepotism. According to NASSA, Dr. P.J. Alexander was brought on deputation as secretary from the Lok Sabha secretariat for a period of five (5) months w.e.f January 2,2020. Dr. Alexander’s contract employment expired on May 31,2020 but was extended through re-appointment to the upgraded post of commissioner & secretary for an extended contract period of two years from June 1,2020 to May 31,2022. The Nagaland Assembly Secretariat Staff Association (NAASSA) and Joint Action Committee submitted a representation dated June 23,2020 opposing the third re-appointment of Dr. Alexander. NAASSA pointed out that the re-appointment of a twice retired official violated the government memorandum dated March 15,2012 that such reappointments affected the rights of sub-ordinate officers and lowered the morale of assembly secretariat employees. The NAASSA also submitted a representation to the assembly speaker on April 21,2022 against extension of service of Dr. Alexander as the Administrative Head of the Assembly Secretariat besides meeting with the Speaker at his office chamber on May 6,2022. NAASSA also submitted another representation on the same matter on May 9,2022 to the assembly speaker. However, despite objections based on relevant service rules, the government issued a notification on May 18,2022 circulated on May 21,2022 containing an amendment to the Service Rules of the NLAS. The government inserted a clause in its amendment without consulting the Cadre Review Committee by ignoring the interests of the officers in service. As commented earlier, the amendment contained a glaring clause whereby the extended service of a superannuated officer was fixed at 65 years. This was totally against the existing government policy where superannuation was at 60 years. The above instance, among several other controversial appointments made by the government of Nagaland only go to show that the rules are bent at will without any thought of the wrong precedence set. It is only fitting that the main players and those at the higher levels responsible for the controversial amendment be held accountable. The stranglehold of the political establishment under the hegemony of leaders who have shown scant regard for the rules and regulations has become more of a rule than the exception. Decisions appear to be made purely to serve powerful vested interests rather than ensuring protection of the interest of the ordinary people. Several service associations have been agitating for justice during the past many years. Controversial decisions made by the cabinet do not arise out of nowhere. Most controversial decisions are initiated and justified by bureaucrats who are more than willing to fill in the blanks at the whims of their political masters. The ‘anything goes’ syndrome within the establishment has thoroughly damaged the administrative governance system. This has led to loss of confidence in the government as public have become cynical and that is perhaps why there are so many agitations and ultimatums on the government to reverse decisions.

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