Honest babus get shifted: Menaka Guruswamy

Supreme Court senior advocate: Like in sex abuse cases, Babus reluctant to sue employer.

Hyderabad: In the backdrop of the sudden transfer of a number of bureaucrats in the state earlier this week, senior Supreme Court advocate Menaka Guruswamy drew a parallel between women unwilling to file sexual harassment cases and bureaucrats who do not move courts about their frequent transfers.

In 2013, Ms Guruswamy, a Rhodes scholar, had secured a Supreme Court directive to the Centre and states to have a minimum fixed tenure of three years in a post.

“Women refrain from filing cases against their employers or colleagues for sexual harassment at work place as they fear the consequences, career damage and exposure of the incident,” Ms Guruswamy said. Honest and non-pliable officers don’t protest their frequent transfers for the same reason.

“There should be a fixed tenure of three years in a particular post,” she said. Though the Supreme Court had directed the Centre and the state governments in 2013 to ensure that all civil servants are given ‘minimum assured tenure’ at a particular posting before they are transferred, so they can work effectively. “The transfers are still happening despite the Supreme Court’s directions,” she said.

“Until the first bureaucrat files a case and questions how they can transfer him/her when he still has tenure left, nothing will change. But the problem is no bureaucrat is ready to go to court as it is difficult to sue your employer and the state, which is like sexual harassment where women don’t report such cases. So far none of the bureaucrats has filed any su-ch case in the country,” Ms Guruswamy said.

She said implementation of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibi-tion and Redressal) Act was weak. Women don’t report harassment cases even in the fields of law, medicine and politics.

Ms Guruswamy, who defended the Right to Education Act, says private schools are not implementing the law.

“The RTE, like any other Act, can be misused, but the real challenge is that private schools are not implementing it. I have also observed that many private schools are redesignating themselves as minority schools, so that the RTE Act will not apply,” she said.

Some states were better at implementing the RTE Act. “For instance, Delhi now has much better implementation and monitoring mechanism and the state government has made it clear that private schools will not hike the fees.”

The senior advocate advised the parents fighting agiaint the increase in school fees to report to the government if schools are not following the orders and file complaints. When it comes to the judiciary itself, she said there is a desperate need for more courts, lawyers, judges and infrastructure.

The senior advocate also addressed students on the subject ‘The court and the decline of its citizenship’ at Nalsar University on Friday, where she raised the issue of sudden transfers and their impact on the officers.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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