Bias Alleged in Promotion Process in the Fire Dept
KOCHI: The reservation criteria and seniority preference under the Public Service Commission(PSC) guidelines have taken a backseat at the Fire and Rescue Services Department in the State, where the senior positions are being awarded to employees only on the basis of department tests.
The Fire and Rescue Services department tests are conducted under a special rule framed in 1988, which states that results of such tests would decide the seniority criteria of the employees.
Meanwhile, a section of the employees alleged that the test, conducted after providing training to the candidates, is a farce and that promotions are given to employees who are the favourites of the top brass in the Department.
“Though the authority to conduct recruitment vests with the PSC, seniority is decided on the basis of internal tests.
“Earlier, recruitment was carried out through the Employment Exchange. However, later the recruitment was taken over by the PSC in 1995.
However, the Fire and Rescue Services Department still follows the special rule formed in 1988, the employment exchange era, an employee, who did not wish to be named, said.
“It is also learnt that the reservation rights of the employees under the SC/ST category have been denied for nearly two decades. Though this marginalised section of employees have been complaining frequently about the injustice meted out to them the authorities have turned a blind eye towards the issue”. “We were denied out basic rights to employment as senior officials promote their favourite employees to top positions on the basis of caste, region and political influence”,the employee added.
Pointing out that there were some interventions from the Law Department and the Home Department to scuttle the PSC guidelines for seniority preference , Kerala Fire Services Association joint secretary A Shahjahan told ‘Express’ that the Association had submitted a number of memorandums and requests to the State Government, seeking the proper implementation of the PSC guidelines.
“According to the PSC guidelines, seniority has to be decided on the basis of the date on which the advice memo is sent.
“So, the SC/ST candidates could also be considered for seniority through the PSC. Besides, due to the unhealthy biasing of a section of the officers, many of the employees are still in the post of fireman or lead fireman, while some others have attained the position of assistant station officer and station officer. The PSC had submitted a report in this regard to the State Government in 2003.
However, that reports were submerged as a result of bureaucratic intervention. There were also interference by certain quarters for not scrapping the existing rule so that the ‘undeserved’ candidates get the fruit earlier,” Shahjahan said.
Dismissing the allegations that the Department had taken a biased stance towards the SC/ST candidates, Joe Kuruvilla, Director of Administration at the Fire and Rescue services Department, said that the department test was carried out transparently, and seniority preference was decided only on the basis of merit.
Thus, some persons who were ranked high in the PSC examinations might fall to the bottom after the department test.
“Though the recruitment process was transferred from the Employment Exchange to the PSC seniority preference was formulated under the rule that was framed in 1988.
“The present hue and cry is for scraping the old rule of prioritising the meritorious candidates on thebasis of the theory and practical examinations conducted after training,” he said.
Backdoor Appointments Rampant
Kochi: A section of the employees alleged that around seven job positions of ‘Motor Transport Officer’ were created in the Fire and Rescue Services Department, without the notification of the PSC. It was done in order to provide jobs to the friends and relatives of some of the the existing employees. The candidates are being admitted through the backdoor, without conducting tests or interviews.