Monday, October 20, 2014

What should an officer do with an oral instruction from his minister? Excerpts from an Office Memo

WHAT should an officer do with an oral instruction from his minister? In an office memorandum dated October 17, 2014, which was regarding the beginning of an in-house weekly training programme, it was stated that secretary of the department must be kept in loop irrespective of whether the oral instructions from the minister or his personal staff are in accordance with the rules or not. “If the oral instructions from the…
Minister or his personal staff are in accordance with the norms, rules, regulations or procedures, these should be brought to the notice of the Secretary. However, if those are not in accordance with the norms, rules, regulations or procedures, the officer receiving such instructions should seek further clear orders from the Secretary about the line of action to be taken stating formally that the oral instructions are not in accordance with the rules, regulations, norms or procedures… Communications requesting for confirmation in writing of oral instructions should be acknowledged”.
The office memorandum further says that it is incumbent on the superior officer to give his/her direction in writing, regarding the manner of dealing with a case. “In some occasions, due to paucity of time at the disposal, if the instructions have been given orally, the oral instructions thus given may be confirmed in writing at the earliest opportunity. Juniors should obtain written directions before carrying out oral instructions. If such instructions are not from the immediate superior, it should be brought to his notice,” it says.
The same memorandum gives the definitions a number of sarkari terms, 11 of which are mentioned below:
1. File - A collection of papers on a specific subject matter, assigned a file number and consisting of one or more of the following parts: a) Notes, b) Correspondence, c) Appendix to Notes, d) Appendix to correspondence
2. Note — The remarks recorded on a case to facilitate its disposal. It includes a summary of previous papers, a statement or an analysis of the questions requiring decision, indication of the rules/precedent/resource position, suggestions regarding the course of action and final orders passed thereon.
3. Appendix to Notes in Relation to a File — A lengthy summary or statement containing detailed information concerning certain aspects of the question discussed on the file, incorporation of which in the main note is likely to obscure the main point or make the main note unnecessarily lengthy.
4. Paper Under Consideration (PUC) — A receipt pertaining to a case, the consideration of which is the subject matter of the case.
5. Fresh Receipt (FR) — Any subsequent receipt on a case which brings in additional information to aid the disposal of a paper under consideration.
6. Section — The basic work unit within a department, responsible for attending to items of work allotted to it. It is generally headed by a Section Officer and includes ‘Cell’, Unit and other like terms.
7. Diarist — A clerk within a section charged with the responsibility, inter-alia of maintaining the section diary.
8. Diary Number —The serial number assigned to a receipt in the Section  diary/personal staff of officers followed by code letters identifying the Section Diary (‘H’ for section diary for Hindi receipt and ‘O’ for Section Diary for other receipts)/Officer’s designation, the year and the abbreviated symbol of the section.
9. Indexing of a File—Indicating its title under appropriate catchwords arranged in their alphabetical order followed by the rest of the words and the File Number to facilitate its retrieval.
10. Docketing —Making of entries in the notes portion of a file about the serial number assigned to each item of correspondence (whether receipt or issue) for its identification.
11. Security grading — Security marking of classified documents as ‘Restricted’ ‘Confidential’, ‘Secret’, or ‘Top Secret”.

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