All responsible governments all over the world find ways and means of recruiting the best talent available for different jobs, particularly those related to the civil service. In India, we have the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) at the Central level and similar State public service commissions at the State level. The Union Public Service Commission of India has been rendering commendable service to the country in evolving appropriate mechanisms for recruitment of able and qualified people for the civil services as well as for the police services. After Independence, the earlier Indian Civil Service (ICS) was replaced by the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and recruitment examitions and procedures for the IAS and IPS were taken over by the UPSC. Modelled on the UPSC, the State public service commissions also rendered yeoman service in the recruitment and selection of personnel for the administrative service as well as the police and other allied services. These State public service commissions maged to function satisfactorily until about a couple of decades ago when corrupt practices were first traced in Punjab. Thereafter, it did not take very long for such corrupt practices to spread also to other State public service commissions. During the last few years, under the chairmanship of Rakesh Paul, the Assam Public Service Commission had degenerated into a disreputable institution engaged in the lucrative selling of jobs. In fact, there have been instances of Rakesh Paul even writing the answer scripts of some of the candidates who had paid for their jobs. The very spectacular addition to the personnel assets of Rakesh Paul in a matter of about four years bears testimony to the kind of corrupt practices that virtually destroyed a prestigious institution like the Assam Public Service Commission (APSC). Fortutely, the evidence leading to the removal of Rakesh Paul and a few members of the APSC (some of them had been absconding from Guwahati for a few weeks before their arrests) and the very recent arrests of two of the senior employees of the APSC has led to a fairly comprehensive revelation of the cash-for-jobs scam of the APSC during the last four years or so. So far, eight persons have been arrested by the investigating agency in connection with the scam while four others are still at large. In the case of those arrested, the Special Public Prosecutor BK Mahajan and the Additiol Public Prosecutor yan Kumar Das had been able to secure the maximum period of police custody of 14 days. As for people appointed against the jobs that were sold, there is a report of two of them misbehaving with the public in an inebriated condition, with one of them even waving a pistol to assert his authority.
The State government has done well to appoint Brig. Ranjit Barthkur (Retd) as the pro tem Chairman of the Assam Public Service Commission in an attempt to restore some order and dignity to a very prestigious institution that ought to have been carefully guarded against the invasion of an unworthy chairman who has brought disrepute to an institution entrusted with the recruitment and selection of officers of the State civil service and other government appointments. It will now take many more years for the Assam Public Service Commission to regain the image and the exalted stature of an institution entrusted with such vital tasks. Even so, the process of restoring the APSC to its pre-eminent position must be carried out with the utmost sincerity of purpose and respect for the very sanctity of the institution involved. We have already had two instances of the damage that can be done to the State’s civil service through the recruitment of unsuitable and unworthy incumbents. If the APSC is to be brought back to its pristine status of being an incorruptible institution, it will have to be purged of all its unworthy elements and replaced by persons committed to very high levels of honesty, integrity and objectivity that alone can sustain the dignity and reputation of an institution like the Assam Public Service Commission.