Our administrative system is infamous for a large number of laws, rules, orders, etc. and they are always increasing in number. The aim of all of them is to make the governance good, efficient, transparent and judicious. Also, there are provisions of disciplinary action against the employees for their lapses. Occasionally, they are punished also, though it is difficult to say whether punishment is really changing the system for the better or not. I narrate here an interesting experience during my posting as Principal Secretary of Secretariat Administration Department (SAD) at Lucknow.
SAD is also responsible for the upkeep of secretariat buildings. For this a Management Officer (MO) or an Assistant Management officer (AMO) is posted for each major building. At that time, a lady officer was posted as an AMO for an important building and she was considered to be quite efficient. I was in the habit of taking rounds of the secretariat and during one such round of that building I noticed certain shortcomings. As a result, I gave her some instructions and expected compliance by a certain date. I fixed up an inspection again on that day. She assured me that my instructions would be complied with by that time.
When I visited that place again on the appointed date and time, I found that neither the instructions were complied with nor was the officer present there. It was a great surprise to me. I also noticed that no one in her office was aware of my instructions. Naturally, it annoyed me and as soon as I came back to my office, I gave instructions for disciplinary action against the AMO. The office promptly put up the file and proposed suspension or adverse entry to the officer concerned. By the time the file came to me, my anger had cooled down and instead of approving the proposed suspension, I ordered for seeking her explanation first. A letter was accordingly issued to the officer.
The file came back to me again after about a week. By this time, an explanation from the officer had been received as well as processed. However, the office had drawn the same conclusion as it had done before, perhaps more to please me than on merit. But, when I read the explanation, it appeared quite satisfactory to me. The officer had prayed for unconditional apology and admitted that the lapse had been inadvertent. Somehow, my instruction to her had slipped her mind and she could not act on them. She had also mentioned that the question of disobeying could not even occur to her mind. Considering all this, I decided to pardon her and closed the matter there itself.
The news of this decision spread throughout the secretariat in no time. Perhaps, the incident had come to the notice of many and they were curious to know the outcome. Some might have been planning to protest also in case I had taken a punitive action. But then, many rang me up or met me personally to convey their appreciation and told me that it had a salutary effect on others also. The concerned officer, who had not dared to meet me after the incident, also met me with tears in her eyes and conveyed her gratitude. I was, in fact, pleasantly surprised to see the magic of pardon. I also thought how nice it would be if rules also provided for a pardon clause, which is not the case as of now. As a result, my instructions had been effectively complied with the next day.