The 'IN CHARGE' Phenomenon

Government service is believed to be a big panacea, with most linking it to stability and prosperity, though same may not be the case for the present day recruits. It has its own positives and few negatives as well. One gets tied to the rules and regulations of the government and has to follow the hierarchy to the hilt unlike a private entrepreneur who is free to do the things as per his/her choice. It goes without saying that the government service has lost its sheen. That aura and grandeur associated with a post of significance stands lost and what is left of the present post in all fields is tension, submission and subordination. All this has led to the value of a post being denigrated to an abysmal level. Add to this the hassles of getting rightly promoted and at the right time, the government service gets despicable.

The time one gets into a job he/she is assigned a particular assignment as per his qualification, selection and or experience. This is what you have to do, a clerk has this official file work, a section officer (SO) has to frame the right notes as per the administrative and legal requirements, various administrative/ secretarial officials have their roles chalked out, and as one goes further up the rungs he has his role defined and may as well have the drawing and disbursing powers. So happens in all other fields. On many an occasion it so happens that a government servant is kept “incharge” of another post as the same may be vacant or unoccupied due to a variety of reasons. These additional duties besides his own may be a temporary assignment which one can very well do or manage to do not so well. Temporarily holding the charge of an additional department in absence of a colleague is ok for a few days or weeks but keeping one in-charge for long doesn’t serve the purpose.

An employee after his selection, completion of probation and in defined time and other requisite formalities has the right to be elevated, promoted to a higher post subject to his fulfillment of the laid down criteria. Due promotion and due elevation is never there in time all due to the delay for one reason or the other. However, many times a person is due for elevation but he is kept as “incharge” for that particular post.  The real word “in charge” means ‘in place of’ or ‘looking after the post of’ a person who manages a team, department, or organization. The person concerned has to take care of additional work and be in control of same, having overall responsibility of a department and legally answerable. However, it so happens that a person at a particular post will be asked to deliver duties without actually being elevated to that post as per the rules and regulations. Every day we come across a list be it in the police, education, engineering or the health departments wherein we have officers designated as incharge DSP’s, SP’s, Principal’s, Director’s, SE’s, CE’s, BMO’s or CMO’s and the list goes on and on in every department. 

This is what is happening for long now and ones sees this almost on regular basis.  If these officers are due for promotions why not as full- fledged DSP, SP, Principal, Director, SE, CE, BMO or CMO’s. Why incharge tag is prefixed to them. Does this tell upon the callousness of the administrators or a subtle ineptness? The consequence of this phenomenon is that it hampers the work of the department and doesn’t give any credence to the person’s credentials on doing a yeomen service and at the end of the day is left out of the due benefits, experience and seniority for that particular post. Also the powers endowed upon various heads of departments or drawing and disbursing officers may not be fully enforced by their being on such incharge posts. They may be restricted in their execution capabilities once it comes to their powers and their hands may be tightened by them being incharge rather than been really in charge of that particular department.

Moreover it is also worth pondering that a post has to be substantive rather being hung as incharge. As per the civil service rules one cannot stay incharge on a particular post indefinitely but has to get the post regularized within a period of 6 months after someone being kept as incharge on the said post. But we see not this; rather we see that officers continue to be kept as ‘incharge’ of a particular post for months and years, contrary to what the rule book dictates. This seems to be a bureaucratic find that is continued for many of the posts outside the civil secretariat walls. The bureaucratic huddle has devised this new strategy for reasons better known to them, perhaps to let this person realize that he stands nowhere and he is at the mercy of the babus. Perhaps let that person be neither here nor there, or be here as well as there, a bureaucratic puzzle. A wrong precedence and illegal continuance.

Incharge phenomenon isn’t there once it comes to the elected members; if there is dissolution of assembly or an elected representative resigns/superannuates no one is made as an incharge Rajya/Lok/Vidhan Sabha member.

Surely most will agree about this unnecessary phenomenon. Let this practice be done away with, except in dire urgencies. This will ease the working and enhance the output of the deserving officers of any department or cadre.

Dr Muzafar Maqsood Wani is Consultant Nephrologist, SKIMS, Soura