Political turmoil is on the rise in Bangladesh and the chain of events is keeping up with it.
As the government nears the end of its third term, several administration officials have been sacked abruptly and sent home, because they lack 'patriotism' (fortunately, no instrument has yet been invented to measure patriotism. If there were such a device, it would be easy to bring people in for such tests).
No rules and regulations are followed when it comes to the promotion and posting of government officials. The appointment is made at the will of the boss! If the superior likes someone, the best posting is reserved for them.
he first Civil Service Act was enacted in 1861, soon after British India came under direct British rule; the name of civil service at that time was Imperial Civil Service, i.e. ICS. In 1919, the rule of sending home the employees in the administration was abolished.
After the 1947 partition, India included clauses in its constitution to regulate the public service holders. According to the Constitution of India, there is no provision that someone can be fired after completing 25 years. Instead, it is mentioned that any accused can only be terminated from the service if the accusations of misconduct have been proven.
Pakistan did not have a Civil Service Act. After its birth, Pakistan failed even to draft a constitution. In 1956, a constitution was formulated; however, there were no clauses or provisions for a Civil Service Act in it. A second Constitution was drafted under Ayub Khan. Even the second Constitution failed to include any such clauses to regulate the Civil Service.
The constitution drafted after Bangladesh's independence also did not include any clause similar to that of India for government employees. Article 133 of our constitution states that: Parliament may by law regulate the appointment and conditions of service of persons in the service of the Republic. Provided that it shall be competent for the President to make rules regulating the appointment and the conditions of service of such persons until provision in that behalf is made by or under any law, and rules so made shall have effect subject to the provisions of any such law.
Article 135 of our constitution says that if someone is to be removed, reasons must be given. Again, in the same paragraph, it is stated that if it appears to the President that doing so is a threat to the security of the state, then there is no need to show the reason. In that case, the accused can be removed from office without stating any reason.
Even after the passing of the 'Government Employment Act 2018', the government was left with the power to send civil servants home. The system of keeping the bureaucracy of an independent country under the control of the ruling party continued. Any form of protest by the opposition is followed by a period of increased activity in the government. This time was no exception. Some High-ranking police officials were sent on compulsory retirement. This chain of events proves that the Government wants to govern the state through loyalists.
In 2012 the government declared the Sub-inspector rank of police as a Second-class government employee. The public Service Commission is responsible for nominating cadre and non-cadre posts per law. Under clause 140 of the Constitution, the Public Service Commission is in charge of bringing such changes. However, the Public Service Commission was not involved in making changes to the status of the Sub-inspector of police.
There are allegations that the government had kept the recruitment under the Ministry to appoint more people loyal to its party. In India, State Police is under the control of the State Government; however, the appointment procedure is conducted by the state Public Service Commission. Consequently, the police are not influenced by party politics.
Before the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh in 2018, Civil Service Act was enacted. During the formation of this Act, the Senior Public Servants had time to scrutinise the law because It had been gazetted through them. However, surprisingly the provision for early retirement was kept intact. They failed to review the regulations of the other two countries of the Indian subcontinent.
The words 'skill', 'qualification' etc., have been used in the promotion policy within this Act. As a result, everything is down to the will of the senior officials. This Act did not create a prospect for a neutral administration accountable to the state.
One of the terms of the promotion policy should be against 'vacant positions'. This means how many people will be considered for a post will be determined based on the number of vacant positions available for that post. This policy is also followed in our neighbouring country India. However, the picture here is different.
There are no posts, but promotions are given at a high rate. Since there is no vacant position, all the promoted are performing the duties of their previous post. The work is of the last post, but now someone of higher rank is performing it. As a result, the cost for the same work increases manifold.
Many people claim that it is the government's policy of adulating bureaucrats. The picture of the professional cadres is similar. Even though the education, health or engineering cadres don't get promoted like the administration cadre, many are attached to the same post in the name of 'attachment'. If this additional workforce is really needed, it is being imbalanced in the administrative chain in the name of attachment rather than 'creating posts'.
Experts say that the administrative structure should be 'pyramid' shaped. There should be harmony from the top to the bottom of the administration. But now the structure has been transformed into a 'pear-shaped' structure due to the high rate of promotions, OSD and attachments, despite the lack of vacant positions. During the previous tenure of the government, more than 1,000 officers were posted in Khamarbari alone, in the name of 'attachment'. It is alleged that all of them were posted in Dhaka based on political considerations.
The situation is similar in the education cadre. About three hundred professors are working in Dhaka city, most of whom do not have regular duties. However, due to the opening of masters in major colleges of the country, the need for experienced teachers has been created, but the posts have not been created.
That is why many people are of the opinion that there is a need for 'attachment'. But it is also true, be it a military-civilian role, people associated with the ruling party or close relatives of party officials do not have to work outside Dhaka. They are posted in Dhaka until the last day of work, one way or another.
No rules and regulations are followed when it comes to the promotion and posting of government officials. The appointment is made at the will of the boss! If the superior likes someone, the best posting is reserved for them. All bureaucrats also try to keep their superiors in good humour because they also want to stay close to power. So that they can also get post-tenure contractual employment, this provision of contractual recruitment was penned in 1974 to meet the needs of the state.
At that time, there was a shortage of suitable candidates in the country. But even today, that system continues. People are being appointed to all sorts of roles on a contractual basis. The implications of such loyalty are dire. Very quickly, they get used to the abuse of power. From government purchases to implementing any state programme, they indulge in making illegal money. As a result, bribery and corruption in the administration are out of control.
As a result, the bureaucracy has become a slave to the will of the superior, losing its voice and turning into the master rather than the servant of the people.
Monowarul Haque is a political analyst.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.