A petition had asked for a civil service board to decide on the transfer and postings of officials and rid the bureaucracy of political interference, corruption and inaction.
The court today asked the Central and state governments to set up such boards within three months, and asserted that officials must have fixed tenures.
The judges observed, “Frequent transfers should be avoided so that implementation of the policies and programmes of the government reach the poor people. These reforms will bring a more professional approach in the government and among high-ranking officials.”
The top court also asked Parliament to enact a law to regulate the transfer, posting and disciplinary action against IAS officers, to insulate them from political interference.
“This is a landmark judgement. Public servants are not private servants and govt can’t deal with them as domestic servants,” said former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian, who is among some 80 petitioners in the case.
Asking civil servants not to act on verbal instructions from their political bosses, the court said such a practice encourages corruption. “If civil servants act on oral instructions they must record it in writing, otherwise the purpose of the RTI will be defeated,’ said the court.
The call for sweeping reforms comes in the middle of outrage over the alleged persecution of bureaucrats like Uttar Pradesh IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal and Haryana whistleblower Ashok Khemka.