Saturday, January 23, 2021
 News Details
SRO 202 on its ‘last leg’?
2-year probation for IAS, 5-year for Class IV!

K.B. Jandial

It can happen only in J&K. While country’s most prestigious IAS officers, or even locally, KAS officers, on selection, remain on probation for two years including training period but the Class IV appointees has 5 years’ probation. This unique ‘gift’ is given by BJP-PDP alliance Govt in June 2015 through SRO 202 which, if reports to be believed, is on ‘its last leg’.
At last, Dr. Jitender Singh, Minister of State for PMO & DOPT has intervened and asked the Lt Governor to review the controversial SRO 202 on Monday (8th June) while inaugurating the separate Bench of CAT in J&K. The Review Committee too met on Wednesday (10th June) set up in February, this year. There are positive signals that the SRO 202 would be suitably amended before the Darbar closes at Jammu for Srinagar.
In Govt quite often, decisions are taken with only one objective in mind, callously ignoring its critical fallout on the people, and when things precipitate then the politics is brought in to carry on even irrational decision or scheme. SRO 202 is one such decision that continues to haunt the youth even two years after the fall of Mehbooba Mufti Govt in the State following withdrawal of support by BJP. The core concern of the then Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu was to ‘manage’ the J&K’s dismal fiscal conditions arising out of resource crunch and came up with a scheme that impacted the new appointees who found themselves to be cheated by an alliance Govt voted to power by the people supporting two different parties in two principal regions of the erstwhile State. It’s impact on youth was more serious than the financial one as the frittering away of scarce resources by the political leadership and the top haunches in the administration was never stopped that could have justified such abrasive move. The then rulers also didn’t draw any lesson from Rather’s even more draconian scheme of 50% basic pay for two years & 75% for next three years.
In J&K, there is a cadre of Class-IV ( orderly) of which 7000 posts have been advertised but in the Central Govt, this cadre is called MTS ( Multi Tasking Staff) which comprised posts of Peon, Daftary, Jamadar, Farash, Chowkidar, Safaiwala etc. While the nature of duties of Class IV is not specified in J&K but in Govt of India, job profile of MTS is specifically recorded in DOPT rules. These are physical maintenance of records/ files of the section you are posted, general cleanliness & upkeep of the section/ unit, carrying of files & other papers within the building, photocopying, sending of FAX etc, other non-clerical work in the Section/ Unit, assisting in routine office work like diary, dispatch etc., including on computer, delivering of dak (outside the building), watch & ward duties, opening & closing of rooms, cleaning of rooms, dusting of furniture etc, cleaning of building, fixtures etc, work related to his ITI qualifications, if it exists, driving of vehicles, if in possession of valid driving license, upkeep of parks, lawns, potted plants etc and any other work assigned by the superior authority. The DOPT’s Office Memorandum says that the list is only indicative & ministries/ departments may add few other duties of similar nature depending on work nature. No such clarity in job profile of class IV exits in J&K.

The framers of SRO 202 didn’t care to consider parity of ‘probation’ between the non-gazetted employees appointed after 30th June 2015 in J&K and the Central Govt employees or for that matter, any other State of the country. While the PDP demonstrated its commitment to Article 370 by following altogether separate system in J&K, but what motivated the BJP Ministers in the Cabinet to agree to such an anti-youth measure? It provided five-year probation for Class-IV and other non-gazetted appointees whereas even the most prestigious cadre of IAS, IFS, IPS at the national level and KAS, KPS & Kashmir Accounts Service in J&K has only two years’ probation including period on training.
As compared to Class-IV, DOPT circular prescribes probation of not more than two years in any service besides training structures and examinations. So, there was no rationale for depriving new appointees of J&K of full pay for five years.
Has the longer probation for Orderlies & lower level ministerial staff brought about greater efficiency in them? Perhaps hardly, especially when it is without any training schedule or examination prescribed to test their ‘competence’ on job barring specialized jobs like account clerks, naib tehsildar, police etc where proper training schedule and examinations are mandated. Is it not inhuman to ‘test’ the work & conduct of an Orderly for five years before giving him full pay?
Examining the legal view on this distortion, even J&K Law Commission has come down heavily on the framers of this Rule saying that “They kept the Sword of Damocles hanging high on the heads of this set of employees.” In its report to the Chief Secretary the Law Commission recommended that five years’ probation should be reduced to two years in line with Rule 3 (i) of DOPT OM of 2019 and also in consonance with the evolved concept of justice and equality as they are now at par with Central Govt employees. The Law Commission clearly pointed out the legal position that follows after implementation of J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019 recommending that “Those employees who have completed two years of probation on the date of the enforcement of Jammu and Kashmir Re-organisation Act 2019 may be regularized…”
It would augur well that this anti-youth SRO 202 is scrapped lock, stocks & barrel but if the Govt decides to bring about parity with the similar placed employees of the Central Govt, it should exempt, at least, Class IV from any such probation as there is hardly specific job profile prescribed for them for which they could be objectively judged. For others, specific training programme and examination should also be prescribed. There used to be Secretariat Subordinate Service Examination which has gone into disuse. Such type of examinations should be prescribed for all those category of employees where probation is made mandatory.

(Author is a retired IAS officer) feedback: [email protected]

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