With President Prab Mukherjee making a reference to the Supreme Court regarding the removal of deposed APSC chairman Rakesh Paul, a turning point has been reached in the investigation into the selling of prime government jobs by Assam’s public recruiter. This development means that in the eyes of the President of India, in whom is exclusively vested the power to remove the chairman or member of a public service commission, a case exists against Paul. The scene will now shift to the Supreme Court, which will give its opinion to the President through the Government of India. Any move to prosecute Paul can begin only after he is removed from the post of APSC chairman. Unless and until that happens, the trial for the cash-for-job scam in Assam Public Service Commission will not get above ground. The post of a public service commission chairman is a constitutiol post of vital import, for he or she heads a body that selects those who will man the steel frame of bureaucracy. Rakesh Paul’s ascendance to the post of APSC chairman’s post is too well known to bear repetition, but it exposed how the erstwhile Tarun Gogoi regime pulled out all stops to favour Paul over other worthy contenders. Similar questions have been raised about the credentials and character of some other commission members as well. And now it is none else than Tarun Gogoi who is calling for a CBI probe to ensure a ‘neutral’ investigation!
Sadly, the damage has been well and truly done to the State’s administrative apparatus, and will take decades to undo. Several APSC officials including its deputy examition controller, along with three ACS officials appointed in 2015 are being grilled after arrest, summons have been issued to 25 more ACS, APS and allied services officials. The extent of crimil malpractices in the APSC keeps emerging in starker detail with police raids on its strongroom and other key locations. The merit list of successful candidates of Assam Combined Competitive Examitions conducted from 2013 to 2015 has come under intense scrutiny with over a thousand answer scripts seized. From the forensic examition of some answer scripts seized in earlier raids, serious discrepancies have reportedly been found, like the answer scripts having been printed at a different press and the sigtures of evaluators not matching up. At a time when stakeholders in education including the State government and various examition boards are introspecting how to clean up and improve the examition system from school to varsity levels, the shenigans the APSC indulged in are shameful. It is totally ucceptable that while the State demands quality, integrity and overall merit from students, its public recruiter got away with barefaced corruption and crimility to favour the near and dear ones of the rich and powerful. The Rakesh Paul episode will reach its conclusion in due course, but what must not be put off any longer is total cleanup and overhaul of the APSC and its examition process.