No arrest without permission; only the president can rescind job dismissals
A new law for government employees, named “Sarkari Chakori Ain” (Government Job Act),will come into force from October 1, prohibiting the arrest of government employees by law enforcement without prior approval.
A gazette notification was published in this regard on Thursday on the Ministry of Public Administration website.
According to Section 41 of this law, a government employee can be arrested before issuance of a charge sheet in any criminal case filed for matters regarding his or her official duties, only after necessary approval is taken from the authorities concerned.
The same section also says that in a trial, if an accused person is found to be a government employee then the court will have to inform the concerned government office about the person immediately.
Section 42 says any government employee will be sacked immediately once a court pronounces a verdict handing out a death penalty or imprisonment for more than one year, for any criminal offence.
Only the president can rescind the removal decision, provided a reason is found for reinstating a sacked public employee, says Subsection 3 of Section 42.
But if the imprisonment term is for less than one year, the authorities concerned can reprimand, hold back promotion or increment for a certain period, demote to a lower rank or to a lower pay scale, and impose fines.
The law has 62 sections covering many provisions relating to the control and jurisdiction of government, appointments, promotions, transfers, salaries and benefits, discipline, and the code of conduct for government employees.
The law is not applicable to eleven types of offices including constitutional positions, the Election commission, the Supreme Court, and public universities.
The cabinet gave final approval to the draft of the “Sarkari Chakori Ain” on August 20 last year.
At that time, in response to a question about whether the Anti-Corruption Commission would be able to arrest a government employee in a sting operation, Cabinet Secretary Shafiul Alam said: “They will have to wait till submitting a charge sheet.”
He said the new law has been framed amalgamating six existing laws.
“All important aspects of the previous laws were brought together in the new law,” Shafiul said, adding that the new law will replace the six existing laws.
The laws are: the Public Service Retirement Act; Services Reorganization Act; Public Service Special Provision Ordinance, 1979; Punctual Attendance Act, 1982; Dismissal and Conviction Act, 1985; and the Surplus Government Employees Accommodation Act.
According to the new law, a government employee will be promoted based on merit, competence, seniority, training, and satisfactory services.
The age limit for entry into public service will be determined by the rules. The highest age limit of an employee in a government job will be 59 years, and 60 years for freedom fighters.
“Government employees will be able to go into retirement with a 30-day notice once they have served for 25 years,” said the cabinet secretary.
All public servants will be able to voluntarily resign at any time during their jobs under the new law.
Clashing with the constitution?
Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International, Bangladesh (TIB) said the law is contradictory with the constitution and the National Integrity Strategy.
According to the constitution, all citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.
He said the issue of “no arrest without permission” has been in discussing ever since the law was drafted and “we raised the matter before the government many times. But our opinion has not been taken into consideration.”
If law enforcement forces want to arrest any politician, even any lawmaker or minister there is no separate provision, then why a special law for the government employees, wondered Dr Iftekharuzzaman.
As the president takes decision in consultation with the chief executive of the country, he said: “We have question about the provision that keeps power of revoking dismissals in the hand of the President.”
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua asked if any official takes bribe during his duty, then why law enforcement forces should require permission to arrest him or her.
“The law is contradictory with the spirit of our Liberation War and the constitution as our society is supposed to form on the basis of equality, socialism and justice. Then how you can make a special class like 'government employees?’ The law is not maintainable in any condition. I am demanding abolition of this law,” the lawyer said.