Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Iqbal Mahmood on Monday said that it would not be appropriate to require approval from any authority before arresting a corruption suspect by the commission as it is an independent organisation.
He made the remark in front of his office in Dhaka when journalists approached him for his comments over the cabinet-approved draft Civil Service Bill 2018 which has a provision that a government employee cannot be arrested before being charged in any criminal case and only after necessary approval from the authorities concerned.
The ACC believes that a bill that protects corrupt public servants would not be made into a law, Iqbal said.
He asked the corrupt people not to rejoice at this stage as the bill had to go through more scrutiny where a lot could change.
Iqbal, however, added that honest officials have right to enjoy necessary protection.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of Bangladesh issued a statement on the day terming the bill as an indemnity for government employees.
It will curb the power of the ACC, it said.
In the statement, CPB president Mujahidul Islam Selim and general secretary M Shah Alam said that the government was heavily dependent on bureaucracy as it was elected without popular votes. ‘As a result, the government moves to formulate the law... favouring only the bureaucrats.’
The party demanded dropping the provision from the bill.
On August 20, the cabinet approved the bill in a meeting chaired by prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
According to the bill, a civil servant will be expelled if he or she is convicted with more than one year jail sentence or higher penalty from the day of conviction while convictions of less than one year of imprisonment and fine to employees will be regarded as lesser offence by the appointing authorities. In that case, as per the draft, the employee will face departmental actions, including demotion, suspension of salary and scolding.
When asked whether the draft would hamper ACC activities, cabinet secretary Shafiul Alam said that the commission’s activities would not be hampered, but delayed.
The ACC will have to wait until the charge sheet is framed, he said.
The bill has been drafted amalgamating six existing laws—Public Service Retirement Act, Services Reorganisation Act, Public Service Special Provision Ordinance 1979, Punctual Attendance Act 1982, Dismissal and Conviction Act 1985 and Surplus Government Employees Accommodation Act.
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