news Saturday, July 18, 2015 - 05:30
  Bastar Collector Amit Kataria was warned for greeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi when sporting shades. He was warned by the Chhattisgarh state government for behaviour unbecoming of an IAS officer.  There was much self-righteous indignation at IPS officer of the Kerala cadre Merin Joseph making an MLA click her photograph with an actor and immediately posting it online Calicut Collector Prashant Nair’s popularity on social media came under vicious attack from a local Congress leader, forcing the collector to take a short break. Kataria, Joseph or Nair are not the only ones who have been at the receiving end for what is perceived to be “un-officer-like” behavior. The question begs to be asked: Are they also not regular people who do regular things? Are our politicians equipped enough to accept bureaucrats who are not scared to speak up and connect with the public? Retired IAS officer and former cabinet secretary to the government of India TSR Subramanian said that it was important to remember that public officials too had the same rights and were subject to the same penal laws as regular citizens. Referring to the labeling of Uttar Pradesh IPS officer Amitabh Thakur as “activist” for filing Public Interest Litigations, Subramanian said that Thakur had done “nothing wrong”. He said that the way one expressed emotion was important. He said that someone killing another person in anger was a crime, but filing a PIL was not. Thakur had every right to file PILs, if he felt that the system needed to be set right, he said. Subramanian also called for the re-examination of notions of so-called normal behavior. Officers of the all-India civil services and also IPS officers are bound by conduct rules and their respective service rules and that these should be the only criteria for judging “un-officer-like” behaviour, he said. While service rules relate to the functions and discharge of duty of various posts in government, conduct rules are a general guideline applicable to their behaviour as public officials, and include things like not drinking in public, not criticizing the government, etc. “What is normal? The only test (for officers’ behaviour) should be illegality or unlawful behaviour, just like for any other citizen,” Subramanian said. As for Kerala IPS officer Merin Joseph uploading photographs of herselfonline, he said: “What is wrong with taking a photo? We are a diverse country, and we must try to encourage diverse behaviour.” Retired officer and former Chennai City Police Commissioner R Nataraj however, thought that the officer should not have uploaded the image on Facebook herself. He was of the view that there was nothing wrong with being photographed at public events, but officers should not upload images of themselves. “It is part of the duty of police officers to go to various social events to maintain public contact, build rapport with the public. It doesn’t matter whether you go in uniform or in civilian clothes. Uploading the photo like this, what sort of message do you want to send out? It just attracts unnecessary criticism” he says. Asked about whether certain outdated customs should be allowed to continue – such as the constable in every police station whose job was to salute senior officers – Subramanian said that one could not dismiss all old practices. While he was not aware of the origins of this practice in Indian police stations, he said that like the military, the police functioned on unquestioning obedience to senior officers for the sake of duty. He said that police personnel also needed such discipline, because in emergency situations, they needed to act quickly and that simple acts such as saluting whenever a senior officer turned up built obedience.
Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.