Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told top bureaucrats in the Centre and the states to submit a list of babus and other gazetted officers who have attracted repeated complaints, or are considered to be under-performers by 1 March this year.

Secretaries of all Central government ministries and chief secretaries of states have been told to recommend penal action against erring Group A and Group B officers who include bureaucrats and other gazetted officers. The recommended actions will include transfers, dismissals, or slashed pension benefits.

PM Modi said this while interacting with these top bureaucrats on Wednesday via Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI), an online interface, in his monthly meeting with top bureaucrats.

“He (Modi) has told the secretaries to submit the list of erring bureaucrats and other officials by 1 March. He feels strongly that the bureaucracy should be strong and clean. Although the complaints against government officials come more from departments that deal with the public directly, we have been told to assess government officials in our own capacity. He also suggested delegating such responsibilities to senior officials with clean records in other departments as well,” a secretary level officer in a top Cabinet ministry told The Sunday Guardian.

“The list is to be submitted by 1 March. We have to assess the officials. The scrutiny is focused on Group A and Group B employees. We have already started with the process and some of the notorious officials are set to face action within 7-10 days. All departments dealing with the public will now have a grievance monitoring cell that will flag such employees,” he added.

The PM gave the instructions after reviewing the grievances relating to the Department of Excise and Customs, but, according to sources, they were meant for everyone present in the meeting.

“It was for everyone. He was reviewing grievances relating to the Excise and Customs Department, but he was very clear that all secretaries have to take action against erring government officials,” he said. “He said that dismiss them if you feel it is the right thing to do. If the official is beyond reason, we were told to slash pension benefits as well. Everyone should be accountable,” he said.

According to Pension Rules, Group A and B officers can be punished if they started service by the age of 35 and had crossed 50 years of age.

In his 80-minute interaction, Modi apparently told the secretaries that they should only keep officials that deliver results and not carry them just because they are in a government job.

“The Prime Minister is of the opinion that we should run the government like a corporate machinery. Everybody should deliver results and add something to the table. Government officials should make life easier for the common man, not make it difficult. We should not carry under-performing or corrupt officials just because they are in a government job. It is essentially a job and not a holiday, be it for bureaucrats or other officials,” he said.

The Prime Minister told the babus to transform the traditional systems of governance. “He says if we are to look beyond incremental change, we need to transform the current system of governance. A lot of new proposals are coming from all fronts. We will see some landmark changes in the next three-four months,” he added.

Earlier this week, giving a glimpse of the course of action to follow, 10 secretary level officers were shifted from one Union ministry to another.

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