GUWAHATI: In a significant development, the Assam government has taken decisive action by suspending 15 state civil service and police service officers accused of participating in the notorious Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) 'cash for job' scandal. Issued on Thursday, the suspension orders targeted 11 officers from the Assam Police Service (APS) and the remaining from the Assam Civil Service (ASC). Notably, two APS officers were already arrested in connection with the case the previous week, while others have received summons to appear before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) currently probing the matter.
The suspension notifications, released by the Personnel Department, assert that these officers benefited from the "anomalies and malpractices" orchestrated by the APSC. Their appointments allegedly resulted from the manipulation of their original scores in the final tabulation sheet, leading to illegal recruitment. The APSC's recommendations for these officers were deemed unlawful, constituting gross misconduct, corruption, and moral turpitude. Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, the government deemed it unfit for these officers to continue in their roles, citing potential harm to public service interests and embarrassment to the government.
The evidence prompting the suspensions emerged from the findings of the one-man Justice (Retd) BK Sarma commission. The commission revealed "anomalies and malpractices" during the Combined Competitive Examination, 2013/2014, implicating the APSC's then-chairman, Shri Rakesh Kumar Paul. The 'cash for job' scandal first came to light in 2016, resulting in the arrest of nearly 70 individuals, including Paul and over 50 civil and police services officials.
Paul, arrested in November 2016 and released on bail in March of the subsequent year, has been at the center of the controversy. The Chief Minister ordered the formation of an SIT in September to intensify the investigation, with a mandate to submit its report to the Gauhati High Court within six months in a sealed envelope.
The Chief Minister’s Office revealed last month that the state government had initiated departmental proceedings against 34 officials from the tainted 2013 batch, as mentioned in the Justice (Retd) B K Sarma Committee report. Similar actions have been taken against candidates from the 2014 batch, alleged to have been selected unfairly with manipulated marks during the tabulation process. The situation remains dynamic as the SIT continues its probe, shedding light on the depths of corruption within the APSC and its far-reaching consequences.