The ‘IN CHARGE’ Phenomenon

Does it portray good administration or otherwise
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 getsinto 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 thisofficial file work, a section officer (SO) has to frame the right notes as perthe administrative and legal requirements, various administrative/ secretarialofficials have their roles chalked out, and as one goes further up the rungs hehas his role defined and may as well have the drawing and disbursing powers. Sohappens in all other fields. On many an occasion it so happens that agovernment servant is kept "incharge" of another post as the same may be vacantor unoccupied due to a variety of reasons. These additional duties besides hisown may be a temporary assignment which one can very well do or manage to donot so well. Temporarily holding the charge of an additional department inabsence of a colleague is ok for a few days or weeks but keeping one in-chargefor long doesn't serve the purpose.

An employee afterhis selection, completion of probation and in defined time and other requisiteformalities has the right to be elevated, promoted to a higher post subject tohis fulfillment of the laid down criteria. Due promotion and due elevation isnever 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 thatparticular post.  The real word "in charge" means 'in place of' or 'looking after the post of' aperson who manages a team, department, or organization. The person concernedhas to take care of additional work and be in control of same, having overallresponsibility of a department and legally answerable. However, it so happensthat a person at a particular post will be asked to deliver duties withoutactually being elevated to that post as per the rules and regulations. Every daywe come across a list be it in the police, education, engineering or the healthdepartments 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 onin every department. 

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

Moreover it isalso worth pondering that a post has to be substantive rather being hung asincharge. As per the civil service rules one cannot stay incharge on aparticular post indefinitely but has to get the post regularized within aperiod of 6 months after someone being kept as incharge on the said post. Butwe 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 bookdictates. This seems to be a bureaucratic find that is continued for manyof the posts outside the civil secretariat walls. The bureaucratic huddle hasdevised this new strategy for reasons better known to them, perhaps to let thisperson 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.

Inchargephenomenon isn't there once it comes to the elected members; if there isdissolution of assembly or an elected representative resigns/superannuates noone is made as an incharge Rajya/Lok/Vidhan Sabha member.

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

Dr Muzafar Maqsood Wani is Consultant Nephrologist, SKIMS, Soura

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