A disturbing trend in recent years concerns an anomalous recruitment process by the State Government. When even a constitutional authority like the Assam Public Service Commission has been found to be flouting every norm and indulge in corrupt practices in its recruitment drives, the overall situation can well be left to imagination. Mercifully, some sort of order has been restored in the functioning of the APSC, thanks to the present BJP-led State Government’s tough stand on the issue, especially with regard to the APSC. This is most welcome and the Government needs to sustain it and cleanse the entire recruitment process in various departments of the different anomalies. The past two decades had seen merit ceasing to figure as a criterion for the APSC in the matter of selection of candidates, with favouritism, nepotism, and political and monetary considerations accounting for the success or failure of a large majority of the candidates. It has been revealed now how evaluation norms for candidates, including for interviews, adopted by the APSC for different examinations had been far from being consistent with the conditions stated in the published advertisements. There had been occasions when the Gauhati High Court had called for re-evaluation of answer scripts in examinations conducted by the APSC.
Notwithstanding the positives following the Government’s intervention in the functioning of the APSC, a lot still needs to be done to put in place a foolproof recruitment system. Indeed, the APSC is in urgent need of some reform and the sooner the Government facilitates it the better it would be for our future governance. Anomalies in appointment processes are bound to have far-reaching implications for administration and governance, as it perpetrates a perverse cycle of corruption. The APSC chairman has come up with a set of recommendations aimed at reforming the APSC’s operations and the Government would do well to give due weightage to those. Every stage of conducting the recruitment examinations right from verification of the educational qualifications of the candidates to evaluation of answer-scripts requires very careful handling so as not to leave any room either for complacency or corrupt practices. With fake colleges and universities mushrooming, the very first step of verifying the credentials of candidates has become a challenging task – something noted by the APSC chairman’s reform recommendations. This, together with the entire gamut of issues plaguing the appointment processes, must be addressed at the earliest. Implementation of the recommendations will be critical to restoring the APSC’s credibility, impartiality, fairness and transparency. At the same time, the practice of putting undeserving persons at the helm of the APSC’s affairs has to stop. It is a fact that the APSC’s ability to discharge its responsibility as an independent body was negated when political connections became the sole criterion for selection of its chairman and members during the previous Congress regime.