Despite protests, Public Service Commission continues exams to hire staff for the local level

2019-07-21

The Kathmandu Post


KATHMANDU,  Protesters tore question papers at an exam centre to protest against the Public Service Commission’s decision to carry out exams to recruit local level staff in Khotang on Saturday.

Sukbir Thami,  secretary  of  Nepal Federation of Indegenous Nationalities, claimed that four protesters, including Rabin Khambu and LB Magar, district joint secretary and joint secretary of  the federation respectively, and two other protesters were arrested in the incident. 

Ten others were arrested in Sunsari, according to Thami. Disgruntled groups enforced strikes in Province 1 and held protests in various places across the country while the commission conducted the ‘biggest’ recruitment exam (in terms of the number of attendees) on Saturday. 

According to the commission, 70 percent of total applicants (out of total  440,163) took the exams on Saturday alone. The commission started taking exams from  Friday, and will take exams until the next three weeks in different dates. 

Indigenous groups, Dalits, Madhesis and women’s groups among others have formed a joint struggle committee against the ongoing exams, saying the decision failed to ensure adequate representation of marginalised communities as per the Civil Service Act.

As per the Civil Service Act, 33 percent quotas should be allocated for women, followed by 27 percent for indigenous nationalities, 22 percent for Madhesis, 9 percent for Dalits, 5 percent for the disabled and 4 percent for backward regions. But when the commission issued a vacancy notice on May 29 for 9,161 seats at 515 local governments, it failed to ensure the 45 percent seats reserved for marginalised communities, which invited controversy. 

Nepal Police’s Information Officer DIG Bishwaraj Pokharel said the headquarters had not received any information about protesters being detained anywhere in the country. “Some might have been detained briefly in a few places to prevent them from disrupting the exams,” he told the Post. Commission’s chairman Umesh Mainali claimed that exams were held peacefully. “There has been hardly any obstruction to the exams anywhere in the country as there was little participation in protests,” he told the Post. 

After the Supreme Court, on July 1, had given the go ahead to the Public Service Commission, the commission started taking the exam to recruit staff for local governments as per its exam schedule. Their reasoning was that over 400,000 applicants cannot be deprived from their rights to sit for the exams. The Supreme Court too refused to an issue interim order to halt the recruitment drive. 

Protesters are complaining that the Supreme Court didn’t even try to examine whether the Public Service Commission’s move sought to undermine the very spirit of the constitution which aims to promote inclusive state.  

None of the provincial governments except Province 2 has come out openly to protest against the exams being conducted. Province 2 Chief Minister Lal Babu Raut told the Post on Saturday that the exams being taken by the commission were against the constitution and law.

“The federal government is using the commission as a pawn against the inclusion principle of constitution in line with its mentality of promoting ‘single caste and one culture’,” he said.

He, however, expressed his helplessness to stop the exams. “What can we do when the federal government is moving ahead with its decisions bulldozing opposing views,” Raut told the Post. But, the commission, in its defense, said that it worked as per the Section 12 (5) of the Employees Adjustment Act, which states that the federal government can request the commission to start the recruitment process for filling vacant posts until Provincial Public Service Commissions are in place.