The Election Commission of India (ECI) advised the Union Government to bar the bureaucrats from contesting elections immediately after the retirement. The recommendation, the DoPT rejected.
The EC is of the view that the Government must set a “cooling off” period for bureaucrats looking to join politics soon after retirement or quitting service. The EC recommended the Government set certain time period post retirement, only after which a bureaucrat can contest elections. The EC opined that allowing ex-bureaucrats from joining electoral politics immediately upon exit from service may violate the right to equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution; as such an officer can start favouring the political ideology of his/her choice right from the closing years of his/her service.
The Department of Personnel (DoPT) Government of India rejected the EC’s recommendation on the grounds that the right to contest elections flows out of citizenship. Although holding an office of profit was a disqualification under the Constitution, once the office is vacated by the individual then there are no provisions in Indian Constitution to bar him from joining a political party or contesting an election. And hence the right can’t be curtailed, not even of bureaucrats (IAS, IPS etc.).
The Government’s reasoning looks quite valid; and barring bureaucrats from contesting elections will be against Indian Constitution.
Now, some of you may ask: If Bureaucrats can Fight Elections then Why Can’t Gen VK Singh!
That’s if the Government is supporting the right of bureaucrats to join politics and contest elections; then why Gen VK Singh is being targeted for having leanings towards BJP?
There are two things here: ‘Joining Politics’ and ‘Being Targeted’.
As a citizen of India and having retired from the post of General, VK Singh has Constitutional right to join politics or contest elections. And no one is disputing that.
The case of Gen VK Singh concerns ‘Being Targeted’.
The moment a person starts behaving politically, or joins some political party or contests election; he/she becomes a sympathiser of a political ideology or a Politician. And a politician will always be attacked by the political rivals and their supporters, be they in Government or masses.
A politically aware or active VK Singh can’t hide behind the General’s Uniform. If he sees the attacks of political rivals as attacks on an Ex General, or the victimisation of Army, then unfortunately there’s a serious problem with his mindset. As after showing one’s political stripes, all the brickbats and garlands are not for Uniform, but for the shrewd Politician or the political ideology one adheres to.
PS: Bureaucrat-turned-politicians are better at Politics than Ex-Army-personnel-turned-politicians as the former never hide behind their bureaucratic careers; while the later do that all the time.