Bangladesh Public Service Commission

Bangladesh Public Service Commission a constitutional body established primarily to recruit persons for various services and posts in the government. It is also involved in decision processes relating to other service matters such as promotion, posting, transfer, discipline, and appeal of the government servants. The main purpose of constituting such a body, designated in most countries of British heritage as 'civil' or 'public' service commission, is to ensure that all decisions relating to recruitment and other service matters are made consistent with the principles of merit and equity. In Bangladesh, this body is presently designated as the Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC).

A commission called Public Service Commission was first established in India in 1926, when it was entrusted with functions almost similar to those of its British counterpart in London, particularly in matters of recruitment of public servants of the central government of British India. Similar provincial level commissions were subsequently established, including the Bengal Public Service Commission in 1937, following the formation of responsible governments in the provinces in pursuance of provisions made in the Government of India Act, 1919, and thereafter in the Government of India Act, 1935. After the partition of India in 1947, replicas of the Public Service Commission in British India were created in Pakistan, both at central and provincial levels. Hence a body designated as Public Service Commission, Eastern Pakistan (renamed later East Pakistan Public Service Commission) came into being in East Bengal (later named East Pakistan) in August 1947.

After the emergence of Bangladesh two separate commissions, namely the Public Service Commission (First), and the Public Service Commission (Second), were initially established in May 1972 under provisions made in President's Order No. 34 of 1972. But to give effect to the provisions on public service commissions in the constitution adopted in November 1972, a fresh Presidential Order (President's Order No. 25 of 1973) was promulgated in March 1973 which in effect formally regularised the establishment of the two commissions in existence since May 1972. However, in November 1977 the government promulgated another ordinance to establish a single commission in place of the existing two commissions, which, in effect, came into being on 22 December 1977 and was designated as Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC).

The most important characteristic of the BPSC is its constitutional rather than statutory basis. The Constitution of Bangladesh defines the composition and functions of the commission in a chapter (2 of part IX) of five articles. The chairman and members are appointed by the President (in practice on the advice of the Prime Minister) for five-year terms, or for periods not exceeding the appointees' age of sixty two. Number of members to be appointed is not constitutionally specified, but is fixed by a Presidential ordinance issued in 1977, at fifteen (minimum being six) including the chairman. There are no special qualifications for appointment except the requirement that at least one-half of the members must be persons who have held offices in the government service for at least twenty years. Normally, the chairman and members who come from the government service are senior officers and those from outside are mostly senior academicians. A member from the government service is not eligible for further employment in the government service (including in the BPSC) after retirement, except the chairman who is eligible for re-employment for one additional term as chairman, and a member who may be re-employed in the BPSC either as a member or as chairman.

Any member can be removed from office but only in like manner and on like grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court is removed under provisions made in the Constitution. The rank numbers of the BPSC's chairman/members in the warrant of precedence tend to constitute an index of their status in relation to officials in the executive wing of the government. The existing Warrant of Precedence ranks the chairman of BPSC with a full secretary to the government, although the chairman precedes everyone listed in that rank number, ie, number 17. On the other hand, members of the BPSC have been given the rank number of an officer holding the status of an additional secretary (ie, number 21).

The Constitution specifies that BPSC shall conduct tests and examinations for selection of persons for appointment to the government service, advise the President (ie the government) on certain matters on which the commission is consulted, and perform such other functions as prescribed by statutes. The matters on which the President is obligated constitutionally to consult the commission include methods of recruitment, principles of appointment and promotion, principles of transfer, terms and conditions of service, and discipline. In practice, however, the responsibility of BPSC is not as extensive as it may appear, for the President may, by order made after consulting the commission, exclude any of the constitutionally specified matters from the commission jurisdiction. Moreover, while he is otherwise obligated to consult the commission, there is no obligation to accept the commission's advice in all cases. In fact, a number of presidential orders issued so far have progressively excluded important categories of employment from BPSC's jurisdiction. The Bangladesh Public Service Commission (Consultation) Regulations of 1979 is one such order.

BPSC usually performs the following functions: (i) to conduct competitive examinations and/or interviews for direct recruitment of persons in the government service; (ii) to conduct psychological and intelligence tests for candidates who qualify in the competitive examinations seeking selection to the various civil service cadres; (iii) to conduct tests and/or interviews for promotion of government servants from one service to another (eg, from class II to class I); (iv) to select candidates from among the serving temporary government servants for appointment to permanent posts; (v) to endorse ad hoc appointments made under various ministries/divisions; (vi) to advise on matters in respect of framing necessary recruitment rules as well as the principles to be followed in making recruitment, promotions and transfers in the government service, including the determination of inter se seniority position of government officers; (vii) to examine and approve rules and syllabi of various departmental and professional examinations as well as conduct such examinations for government servants; (viii) to advise on matters affecting the terms and conditions of service of government servants; and (ix) to advise on disciplinary and appeal matters affecting government servants. In addition, BPSC also performs functions in the field of personnel research, such as to compile data and analyse statistically the aptitudes (including academic, socio-economic, regional and institutional backgrounds) of persons seeking government employment.

The Constitution stipulates in specific terms that BPSC shall, not later than the first day of March each year, prepare and submit to the President an annual report on the performance of its functions during the previous year. The report shall be accompanied by a memorandum setting out (i) the cases in which the advice of BPSC was not accepted by the government and the reasons furnished by the latter for non-acceptance of such advice; and (ii) the cases in which BPSC ought to have been consulted, but was not consulted, and the reasons of such deviation. The President shall cause the report and memorandum to be laid before Jatiya Sangsad at its first meeting held after March 31 of the year of submission of the report. This provision is designed basically to ensure that consultation with BPSC is not overlooked, and that its advice is accepted as a rule. At the same time, it implies due freedom for the government in cases where it considers the matter of sufficient importance to follow its own judgement, provided the government is prepared to justify its action before Jatiya Sangsad.

To assist BPSC in discharging its functions, there is an establishment called the Bangladesh Public Service Commission Secretariat. Structurally, it is part of the Ministry of Establishment, a ministerial portfolio of the Prime Minister, and is accorded the status of a ministerial division. The business in the headquarters of BPSC, located in the capital city, is conducted in ten functional sections, including establishment section, accounts section, examination section, recruitment section, psychology section, research section, and library section. In addition, there are six zonal offices of which five are located in the outlying five divisional headquarters, and the remaining one, meant for Dhaka division, is accommodated in the same building where the headquarters of the BPSC Secretariat is housed. These zonal offices, in effect, acts as liaison offices. The Secretariat has an officer designated as secretary who acts as its chief executive officer. He is an additional secretary to the government placed in BPSC on deputation. The secretary's senior aides include a joint secretary, controller of examinations, chief psychologist, two deputy secretaries, and seven directors. [Syed Giasuddin Ahmed]

Bibliography Syed Giasuddin Ahmed, Bangladesh Public Service Commission, Dhaka, 1990; M A Muttalib, The Union Public Service Commission, New Delhi, 1967; C.J. Hayes, Report on the Public Service Commissions of British Commonwealth Countries, London, 1955.