Health ministry finally cancels that recruitment process

A report on discrepancy in recruitment of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) was published in Prothom Alo on 12 April this year.

There were allegations of large-scale bribery during the recruitment process of more than 2,500 medical technologists, technicians and cardiographers under the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

Two members of the recruitment committee formed by the health ministry complained that a section of the candidates bribed Tk 1.5 to 2 million each to get passed in the written exam.

Finally, the health ministry has axed that controversial recruitment.

The health services division on Monday cancelled the recruitment process through a notification issued citing 'discrepancies in the written exam'.

At the same time the director general of the DGHS has been asked to issue a new circular for the recruitment in those posts within a short time, according to a letter signed by Anjuman Ara, the deputy secretary of the health services division.

Health services division public relation officer Md Maidul Islam Pradhan confirmed the development to Prothom Alo on Tuesday night.

Earlier on 12 April, Prothom Alo published a report under the headline – “Take Tk 10m now, will pay more later”. Prothom Alo’s senior correspondent Rozina Islam was the author of the report.

On the following day, the health services division formed a probe committee. The recruitment process has been cancelled as per the recommendation of the probe committee.

Porthom Alo published several reports on the corruption, discrepancies and mismanagement at the health ministry including the much-talked-about report in April and at the beginning of May this year.

In the meantime, while carrying out her professional duties on 17 May, Rozina Islam was detained at the health ministry for about six hours, where she was harassed and mistreated. She was then handed over to the Shahbagh police station at 8:30 in the night. At 11:45pm a case was filed against her at the Shahbagh police station under the Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act.

She was taken to the custody of court on the next morning.

Rozina Islam was produced before the court at noon. The court rejected her bail petition and sent her to jail. After six days of being arrested in this case, she was released on bail from Kashimpur Central Women's Jail, Gazipur on 23 May.

The case against Rozina Islam is under trial now. She is to appear before the court.

The court has rejected the plea made by Rozina Islam for the return of her passport, press accreditation card and two mobile phones, which had been seized in the case filed under the Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act.

The Dhaka’s chief metropolitan magistrate (CMM) court rejected her plea for the return of these on Sunday.

What does the ministry’s notification contain?

Meanwhile, the notification cancelling the recruitment states the health services division formed a probe committee on the recruitment for the post of medical technologists, medical technicians and cardiographer following a newspaper report.

In accordance with the report filed by the probe committee, health minister Zahid Maleque gave an order that the recruitment process must be cancelled as the probe report mentioned ambiguity in the answer sheets of the written exam.

He also instructed that arrangements must be taken soon to issue a circular for new recruitment.

Job seekers applied previously need not to apply again and they would take the new recruitment test.

On 29 June last year, the DGHS published a circular for the recruitment of 2,689 posts including 889 medical technologists, 1,650 medical technicians and 150 cardiographers. The DGHS took the recruitment initiative to meet the technical manpower shortage at government hospitals amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 2,251 candidates passed the written exam held in December, which was 5 per cent of the total candidates. However, 80 to 85 per cent of them scored higher in the written exam, raising a doubt.

Doubt over discrepancy in written test also surfaced while holding viva voce. At the time, members of the recruitment committee told Prothom Alo candidates who obtained 60-79 marks out of 80 in the written exams could not answer questions in the viva voce. Candidates with lower scores in the written exams, on the other hand, did well in the viva voce.

The Prothom Alo report also mentioned a deputy secretary of another ministry offered a member of the recruitment board bribe and promotion to pass the candidates in the viva voce. In the letter, a member of the recruitment committee alleged that Tk 10 million (1 crore) was offered in cash, and more money and promotion later.

According to sources of the committee formed over discrepancy in the recruitment process, as per the jurisdiction, the probe body would verify whether the recruitment process was appropriate and exams were conducted fairly, whether there was any discrepancy in the evaluation of the answer sheets of written test. If so, the committee would trace the people involved and recommend for punishment to them.

However, the health ministry’s notification cancelling the recruitment process did not say anything about the people involved in the discrepancy of the written test.

Regarding the cancellation of recruitment over discrepancy and corruption, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) executive director Iftekharuzzama told Prothom Alo the cancellation of that recruitment process by the health ministry proved Prothom Alo’s report “Take Tk 10m now, will pay more later” was true.

However, only cancellation of the recruitment process would not work, action must also be taken against officials and people involved in discrepancy of the written exam, he noted.

Besides, the Anti-Corruption Commission should also scrutinise the whole matter. The probe report should be made public for the sake of public interest. And, if these issues are not made clear, then it must be understood that corrupt people involved in discrepancy have colluded with the higher level, Iftekharuzzaman observed.

This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu and Hasanul Banna