Since corruption in Bangladesh became a great concern for the government, it decided to form an independent commission to eliminate corruption from the country. This determination led the government to form an Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (IACC).
The Government promulgated the Anti-Corruption Act, 2004 on 17 February 2004. The Act became effective on 9 May 2004 and a five member Selection Committee was formed by the government on the same day. The Committee comprised : (1) A Supreme Court Appellate Division Judge, (2) A High Court Division Judge, (3) Chairman, Public Service Commission, (4) Comptroller and Auditor General and (5) the last retired Cabinet Secretary. The Selection Committee recommended the name of six persons and among them the Honourable President has selected Justice Sultan Hossain Khan, a former High Court Judge as Chairman. The two other Commissioners are Mr. M. Maniruzzaman Mia, Former Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University and Mr. Maniruddin Ahmed, Former Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission of Bangladesh. The formation of the Commission was notified in the Gazette on 21 November 2004 and became effective immediately.
The Chairman and the Commissioners have been appointed for a four year term. They can only be removed in the same manner as a judge is removed, i.e. the President forms a Supreme Judicial Council empowered to enquire into any complaint made against a judge. If the Council finds the judge guilty, they can suggest removing him/her from office.
The newly appointed Chairman of the IACC will enjoy the status of a Judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court while the commissioners will enjoy the status of High Court judges.
With the inception of the IACC, the Bureau of Anti-Corruption (BAC) has been dissolved. The new Commission has decided to commence work with the existing BAC staff. Approximately 1200 officers and staff are now being considered as IACC staff. According to the law, the commissioners are empowered to select suitable BAC staff for appointment. In order to uphold the integrity of the new IACC, staff are required to submit statements of property within one month of appointment.
The newly formed Commission will have three wings - Investigation, Prosecution and Education. IACC will enjoy autonomy in respect of expenditure within set budget limits. Once the government has allocated money to the Commission in the budget, no further approval for expenditure is required.
The Commission can also decide independently to commence an enquiry / investigation into any government servant. This new power was introduced recently by amendment to the Criminal Law Amendment Act,1958. Under this law, the Bureau of Anti-Corruption had to seek government permission in respect of an enquiry or investigation against any government servant. Through the amendment, this bar has been withdrawn.
Most political parties and civil societies in Bangladesh have welcomed both the inception of the Commission and the appointment of the Commissioners and have wished them success.
Md. Shafiur Rahman
Director of Prime Minister's Office