|Let's not forget Article 311|
|Saturday, 04 February 2012 01:30|
DoT officers are protected from ministers like Raja
Before he was jailed, ex-telecom secretary Siddharth Behura defended his actions by saying he had just done what the minister wanted, he had no option. That view has now been consecrated by the Supreme Court’s judgment on Thursday cancelling 122 of the licences issued by A Raja. While describing what Raja did, the Court has said “the officers of the DoT who attended the meeting … hardly had any choice but to approve the recommendations … If they had not done so, they would have incurred the wrath of (Raja)”.
While that’s a nice excuse and Behura’s counsel is sure to use it at some point, the fact is that bureaucrats have enough protection afforded to them by the Constitution. Article 311 says that no bureaucrat can be dismissed or removed by anyone other than the President of India (the authority which appoints her to the job). As for reducing the person’s rank as a punishment, for not following a minister’s order for instance, Article 311 says this cannot be done except after a formal inquiry. So, if Behura or any other officers wished to disagree with Raja, there was precious little he could do except request the Prime Minister to transfer the bureaucrat out. That’s a small price to pay for doing the right thing. If bureaucrats chose to not do the right thing, they can’t blame anyone else for this.