ACC for law change to make staff public servants

Ahammad Foyez | Published at 11:32pm on December 08, 2020

The Anti-Corruption Commission is likely to request an amendment to its law to raise the number of commissioners, make scope for their reappointment and declare its staff public servants so that they can avail themselves of the facilities government officials enjoy.

The governance campaigners, however, say that they observed that the commission was made more dependent on the government through most previous amendments to the law.

A nine-member committee of the Anti-Corruption Commission led by its secretary Md Dilwar Bakth held  a virtual meeting in this regard on Tuesday where it was proposed that the amendment should mention ACC employees as public servants so that they too would be entitled to similar facilities.

Dilwar Bakth, however, denied making any comment on the proposal seeking changes to the law.

Some ACC officials told New Age that there was a move to introduce a change to the clauses regarding commissioner’s appointment in which an option of reappointment would be included as the law currently did not allow the reappointment of any commissioner.

Under the existing law, the president appoints three commissioners for the commission and assigns one of them as chairman for a five-year tenure.

They said that an increase in the number of commissioners might also be proposed, raising it to five from three, as at a recent meeting the commission chairman Iqbal Mahmood said that more commissioners were needed as works and wings of the commission had already expanded.

The existing law prohibits the appointment of commissioners at any profitable government position after the end of their tenure.

The tenure of incumbent chairman Iqbal Mahmood will end in March 2021 as he joined in March 2016.

A member of the committee said that the commission has taken a move to amend the law that governs it, especially to incorporate provisions for more facilities for its employees.

He said that the initiative was taken after some government departments refused some of its employees a number of facilities public servants are entitled to.

The applications placed by some ACC employees for the facilities have been rejected by the departments on the grounds that the commission is an independent body which appoints its employees and the ACC law does not mention that its employees are public servants, he said.

About the move, former caretaker government advisor M Hafizuddin Khan told New Age that such an amendment to the law to increase a number of benefits for its own officials is a deviation from the principal goal of fighting corruption.

He said that there was a possibility to make the commissioners submissive to the government through the assurance of reappointment.

Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder said that changing the law for personal interest would make the commission more dysfunctional as a vested quarter would get the chance to exert influence over the commission.

He suggested that the commission should backtrack from such a move.

Earlier on November 1, responding to a query from the Cabinet Division, the ACC secretary sent a letter to the government asking for retirement benefits and medical facilities for the families of its chairman and two commissioners, which the judges of the Supreme Court are entitled to.  

The ACC put forward the demand on the grounds that the ranks of its chairman and commissioners were equivalent to those of the Appellate Division and High Court Division judges.

Retired public servants are usually appointed ACC commissioners.

At present, the ACC chairman and a commissioner are retired secretaries while another commissioner is a retired district judge.