By the Way

By the way : Dressing down of the Chief Secretary

Tt’s becoming difficult for civil servants to do their jobs in the government. Gone are the days when no one dared to question their behaviour and dress sense. Civil servants lived life king size. If one happened to be the Chief Secretary of a state, everybody tended to fall in line. However, over the past few decades, the clout of Chief Secretaries has weakened as Chief Ministers of respective states now view themselves as CEOs. The latter want their Chief Secretaries to behave like rubber stamps. Anjani Kumar Singh, Chief Secretary, Bihar, and a 1981-batch IAS officer of the same state’s cadre, faced a peculiar situation when he recently appeared before the Supreme Court of India. He was summoned by a bench comprising Justice J Chelameswar and Justice S Abdul Nazeer to explain why the state government had delayed filing an appeal over a property dispute for four years and 23 days. Before Singh could reply, the Supreme Court immediately reprimanded him because of what he wore. The bench was offended by his black trousers and band-gala coat. They asked him whether he treated his political boss in the same manner, and whether he showed the same disrespect. The court felt that government officials should show respect for the judiciary, like they do for constitutional posts. “Would you tell us how you treat your CM? Do you go to the meetings in an informal dress? If not, then how can you come in court wearing informal clothes? This is not the way to come to the highest court of the country,” the bench observed. Singh tendered an unconditional apology for not maintaining the dress code. It’s surprising that Anjani Kumar Singh forgot the lessons he learnt during his academy days. In the academy, it’s taught how a civil servant should dress for official duties. This is a message to all civil servants to be careful while appearing before the Supreme Court and those who hold constitutional posts.

VOL. 11 | ISSUE 5 | AUGUST 2017

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