Committee for Administrative Reform/ Reorganisation

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Committee for Administrative Reform/ Reorganisation formed by the military regime of General Hussain M Ershad on 28 April 1982, under the chairmanship of Rear Admiral MA Khan, the then deputy chief martial law administrator. In fact, this committee is more popularly known by its acronym, CARR. It was entrusted with the responsibility of recommending an appropriate, sound, and effective administrative system based on devolution of authority and participation by the local people. Other than the chairman, it had nine members, inclusive of a member-secretary and three co-opted members.

The terms of reference of the committee were: (a) to review the structure and organisation of the existing civil administration with a view to identifying the inadequacies of the system; and thereafter (b) to recommend an appropriate, sound and effective administrative system based on the spirit of devolution and the objective of taking the administration nearer to the people. The chairman of the committee submitted its final report on 22 June 1982. The recommendations of the committee were:

Elected local councils or parishads at union, thana and zila levels.

Directly elected chairmen of these parishads at union, thana, and zila levels. In case of a zila parishad (ZP), an alternative electoral college comprising all union parishad (UP) and thana parishad (TP) members could also be considered.

Chairmen of UP to be members of TP.

Chairmen of TP to be members of ZP.

All officials working at union, thana and zila levels should be allowed to attend and participate in parishad meetings at their respective levels.

ZP/TP to be provided with senior staff support.

UP/TP/ZP chairmen are to be chief coordinators of all government activities within their respective jurisdictions except magistracy/judiciary.

Elected chairmen are to be vested with adequate powers to ensure accountability of local officers.

Regulatory administration should be brought under the purview of local councils within a time-bound programme.

Village courts as they are functioning would be strengthened in terms of enforceability of decisions as well as in terms of adequate training.

There would be restrictions on appeals from the judgement of village courts based on certain principles.

A real reorganisation of existing administrative units should be made in terms of converting existing sub-divisions into districts and abolition of the division as an unit of administration.

The post of the divisional commissioner may be converted into that of vigilance commissioner, while other division based offices as are functionally organized may act as inspectorial and/or technical support-provider agencies.

All existing thana level committees may be abolished and TP may form committees as and when required.

The wide proliferation of field staffs especially at the thana level should be stopped forthwith, and existing manpower should be deployed on rational principles keeping in view the needs of particular regions. The rationalization of deployment may include, among other things, project based administration rather than permanent set-ups.

ZP/TP are to be given powers to oversee police functions and regulatory control as provided under the relevant statute.

A permanent inter-ministerial committee for implementation of the recommendations should be established.

Until such time as jail facilities are developed at the thana level, judicial administration should continue to operate from their present locations, i.e., sub-divisions. However, the question of holding trial at the thana level by circuit magistrates might be considered.

The question of mouza/ward as an electoral unit for local government elections may be considered, based on 1000 to 1500 voters in a unit.

In view of the large number of districts created, it may be necessary to provide regional planning and vigilance support. Seven such centres may be created which should include the existing four divisions. The grouping may be as follows: (i) Barisal, Patuakhali and Faridpur with HQs at Barisal; (ii) Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts and Bandarban with HQs at Chittagong; (iii) Sylhet, Comilla and Noakhali with HQs at Comilla; (iv) Dinajpur and Rangpur with HQs at Rangpur; and (V) Bogra, Pabna and Rajshahi with HQs at Bogra.

Not all recommendations were accepted or acted upon by the martial law government. The major areas of reform implemented include the following: (i) Upgrading the thana administration to make it focal point of both regulatory and development administration; (ii) Abolition of sub-divisions as an unit of administration; (iii) Conversion of old sub-divisions into districts and in some cases creation of new ones; and (iv) Placing the development administration in a thana, later named upazila, under an elected chairman. [AMM Shawkat Ali]

Bibliography Government of Bangladesh, Report of the Committee for Administrative Reorganisation/Reform, June, 1982.