Making APSC corruption-free

The Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) is an independent constitutional institution that is modelled on the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to conduct combined competitive examinations for the recruitment of civil and allied services officials
Making APSC corruption-free

 Prof. (Dr.) Dharmakanta Kumbhakar


The Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) is an independent constitutional institution that is modelled on the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to conduct combined competitive examinations for the recruitment of civil and allied services officials, apart from various departmental examinations of the Assam Government. It was set up in 1937 under the Government of India Act, 1935, and reconstituted in 1951 with the Indian Constitution coming into force. There was a time when the APSC commanded all-round respect from the public as a constitutional institution with impeccable integrity because the institution had at its helm persons with proven credentials who infused transparency and accountability at the core of its functioning. The rot set in the APSC as some politicians began to get ideas of using the bureaucracy as their committed force when in power. They did this by getting their favourite candidates recruited as bureaucrats through APSC, most of them their kith and kin. It is a dreadful comedown from the exalted heights the APSC once enjoyed when its selection procedure comes repeatedly under court scrutiny. Underhand dealing, nepotism, favouritism, casteism, regionalism, political interference, etc., have taken a heavy toll on the Commission’s stature as an independent constitutional institution.

APSC had been mired in controversies with allegations of corruption in the recruitment process for the state’s civil services, allied services, and all gazetted posts in the last three decades. The functioning and credibility of the APSC took a huge leap three decades ago, when Dr. Taraprasad Das was appointed as chairman of the august institution. Geeta Basumatary, as chairman of the APSC, was not also free from allegations of corruption. Though Geeta Basumatary was able to complete her tenure, Dr. Taraprasad Das was removed as chairman for the allegation of selling a job in exchange for hefty money. Rakesh Kumar Paul was an unfortunate choice to head such an august organization. Paul, a person with doubtful credentials, was a notary prior to his appointment as member and then chairman of the APSC on the recommendation of the then Tarun Gogoi government. They all have destroyed the integrity and credibility of this respectable organisation, though they were supposed to uphold its integrity. The current state government may initiate an inquiry and take necessary action on the genuineness of the recruitment process by the APSC for the state’s civil services, allied services, and all gazetted posts in the last three decades.

There had been a series of agitations in Assam during the APSC chairmanship period of Rakesh Kumar Paul against the irregularities and corruption in the APSC. Several organisations and individuals demanded Paul’s removal from the APSC. They alleged that he was mired in corruption, and many candidates were able to clear the APSC, which conducted tests through favouritism under Paul’s chairmanship. Unfortunately, the then-Congress-led government of Assam took no action to remove him from the chairmanship to make the APSC free from corruption.

The proof about the criminal activities of Rakesh Kumar Paul came in the most unexpected way. The Dibrugarh police got highly damaging information about Paul and one or two members of the Commission during the interrogation of a tout named Nabakanta Patir, who demanded and received a bribe of Rs 10 lakh from a lady on the assurance that he would give her a government dental surgeon’s job through the APSC. The tout revealed that he had passed on sums exceeding Rs 2.5 crore to Paul and that there were other agents like him engaged in the same nefarious business. He also revealed that he had sold several hundred government jobs through the APSC. The then Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal took a bold step, allowing Dibrugarh police to arrest Paul and remove him as chairman for selling his job in exchange for hefty money. Later, the Court punished Paul, his associate Samedur Rahman, and a few officials in an alleged cash-for-government job scam and sent them to jail. Paul and his associates really deserve to have all their ill-gotten assets confiscated by the state, in addition to being given a long term in prison. However, police arrested several candidates who cleared the APSC examinations and got jobs through favouritism under Paul’s chairmanship. Later, the government terminated their post.

For the first time in the history of the APSC, its chairman was arrested and jailed. Paul’s arrest brought to light more corrupt practices in the APSC. Paul named many bureaucrats, politicians, former ministers, and student leaders for their alleged involvement in the scam. He received an umbrella of protection from the administration, and the nexus was wide and deep-rooted. It was a massive racket of a very serious nature that destroyed the social fabric of the state. Many bright candidates were deprived of qualifying for the APSC examination. The wrong candidates were entered into the system by these officers, and accordingly, the whole system had been corrupted. We are thankful to the current and previous BJP-led governments of Assam for taking the necessary steps to make APSC corruption-free. It is evident that most of the APSC-selected candidates are now deserving and meritorious.

APSC is an institution of great importance to the proper and efficient running of Assam’s administration. Though it is not exactly a part of the Assam Government, it is certainly a vital organisation that plays an important role in ensuring the selection of good, honest, and efficient officers who will eventually play vital roles in the better governance of the state. As such, any harm or disservice done by APSC constitutes an inimical act against the state and its people, not to speak of the government itself. Let APSC be a corruption-free institution so that honest, hard-working civil service aspirants can dream big. We look forward to the Commission serving the people, not individuals, political stalwarts, bureaucrats, and criminals. In the future, political connections and nepotism with respect to the selection of candidates through the APSC should be strictly checked so that not even a single deserving and meritorious candidate loses his position to some undeserving but politically and monetarily influential candidate. One greedy and corrupt chairman of the APSC and a couple of similar members are enough to destroy the organisation. The APSC chairman and members to be appointed in the future must have impeccable credentials and a proven public service record, and its functioning must be transparent. One hopes that the current government of Assam, led by Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, will adopt more steps to make APSC absolutely free from corruption.

Top Headlines

No stories found.
Sentinel Assam