The Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) has been in news for wrong reasons all along. Apart from the many allegations of corruption against its members, including one of the most notorious cases involving disgraced former chairman Rakesh Paul in the cash-for-job scam, the discredit of it being manned by political appointees has also led to a very unfortute and shameful dent in its image. People no longer trust it. And that people no longer hold it in high esteem and have lost their faith in it despite it being a constitutiol body meant for selecting a huge bulk of the State’s bureaucracy, including the State police service, necessitates the imperative of radical reforms. Without meaningful reforms and members with honesty and integrity at its helm of affairs, the public service commission can never live up to what is really expected of it – public service. After all, it is an institution to engender public servants with a will to serve the people of the State, and not perpetuate loot of the exchequer and yet go scot-free. However, Rakesh Paul, thankfully, is in judicial custody for the sins he has committed in the me of recruitment of public ‘servants’ – officers who have been apprehended for the bribes they have paid to get well-paid, secure jobs in the bureaucracy.
Let us remember one thing. When the process of recruitment in the bureaucracy is one that entails bribery, the bureaucrats so recruited will be more into the unholy business of making up for the money they have spent to secure their jobs by all unfair means possible, because their salaries are limited, rather than they being involved in public service with honesty, integrity and dedication to the cause of people. This is dangerous. This kills the essence of democracy. And in Assam, democracy has yet to take the roots of the kind one is witness to in a functioning democracy. Hence the imperative of reforms in the APSC.
In our front-page report entitled “Will political consideration be a thing of the past?” carried yesterday, we said, “Be it the TL Baruah Committee or the one led by MP Bezbaruah for APSC reforms, there has been a common opinion that political consideration in the appointment of APSC chairman and other members has to be done away with if the government is really interested to bring transparency into the process of selection of candidates for various posts.” What we have wanted to drive home is simple: a very bad impression has gone out that most of the appointments in the APSC are political, and not based on merit and proven track record, when it comes to choosing people for decorated positions such as APSC chairman and members with the huge responsibility of conducting fair examitions to select new entrants for the State’s bureaucracy and thus for public service, not public disservice and loot of their hard-earned money. Such impression must be undone.
The cash-for-job scam has sullied the reputation – whatever it was – of such a constitutiol body as the APSC more than anything else perhaps has. A return to even a semblance of reputation is a Herculean task now, but it must happen sooner rather than later. In other words, the incumbent APSC chairman has his task well cut out. The rot is deeply entrenched. It must be elimited hook, line and sinker.