New Delhi:  The Supreme Court on Monday sought response within four weeks from the Centre and states on a PIL for setting up high-powered statutory Civil Services Boards to decide transfers/postings of civil servants in a bid to rid the bureaucracy of political interference corruption and inaction.

The PIL has also sought fixed tenure for at least three years for civil servants to insulate them from political and other extraneous influence.

A bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma granted the four weeks' time after noting that the Centre and most of the states had failed to respond to its earlier
direction on March 4.

"It is a very serious matter and we want to dispose it off within six weks. It can't be deferred. Otherwise, it will never be completed. Please be serious," the bench said.

The bench passed the direction on a PIL filed by 83 former bureaucrats through counsel Menaka Guruswamy. According to the PIL, "there is an urgent need to make the civil servants accountable, sensitive and responsive. If this is achieved, there will be across-the-spectrum benefits.

At present, the system of transfers, postings, promotions, disciplinary action and other personnel matters pertaining to the higher civil services are ad-hoc and non-transparent.

"Transfers are often used as instruments of reward and punishment, with officials being frequently transferred on the whims and caprices, as well as the personal needs, of local politicians and other vested interests. Officers, especially those in the All India Services serving in state governments, have no stability or security of tenure, “the petition said.

The PIL said civil servants at all levels should be given a minimum three-year fixed tenure in each post to foster functional freedom and independence.

(Agencies)