Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Suspend or Fire

If you're Indian and follow the news, you've probably heard of the Shopian murders. Two Kashmiri women out in the evening were abducted by securitymen, exactly who is as yet unclear. The women were raped, killed, their bodies dumped in a shallow canal, and the incident covered up as an accidental drowning. The truth came out, serving to further alienate and inflame Kashmiri public opinion. Now, four police officers involved in destroying evidence have been suspended from service.
When I hear about such incidents, I wonder why these chaps aren't sacked immediately. Suspension, after all, means getting a substantial portion of your salary for doing no work. It sounds more like a sabbatical than a punishment. The only police officer I recall being fired was Sunil More, who raped a teenage girl in a police chowky on Marine Drive.
I've just read an Associated Press article which indicates New York faces the same suspension versus sacking conundrum. 700 teachers in New York are currently being paid their full salaries for doing nothing. They report to an off-campus office each workday morning and spend eight hours amusing themselves as best they can, reading, surfing the Net, playing board games. They're under suspension, but cannot be fired before a proper enquiry is conducted, and that takes months. Many of those suspended claim they're being victimised by bosses they angered.
It's a difficult balance to strike: making state employees more fully accountable will always have the side effect of leaving underlings vulnerable to persecution by seniors with grudges. Solutions, anybody?


Unknown said...

You might as well ask if God exists. Although I have no doubt that there'll be passionate answers from both the Left and the Right - and as is usual, both will not be without merit.
Personally, I'd tilt towards accountability (sack instead of suspend) even at the risk of potential harassment - but that's just me.


Girish Shahane said...

Ashish, whether God exists or not is an easy one for me, Suspend or Fire is far tougher :)
The least administrators could do is conduct proper investigations, and sack people who've been given a fair hearing and found guilty. That happens all too rarely in India, unfortunately.

DS said...

Can there be a suspend without pay category till the investigation is done? Can always may the necessary monetary ammends if proven innocent.

Unknown said...

i cant see how an investigation serves any purpose when every step will be politically legislated. i know its harsh and there will be a lot of collateral damage but sacking with or without prosecuting would be my call.