HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: With Secretary at the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Bhagawati Kumar Kafle set to retire in one-and a-half-months, the constitutional anti-graft agency, in all likelihood, will be more ineffective. Kafle, working as acting Chief Commissioner, will retire on October 10 and this is likely to further weaken the anti-graft constitutional body and its anti-corruption movement.
Before their retirement on January, 2009, Commissioners Lalit Bahadur Limbu and Beda Prasad Siwakoti had delegated their authority to Kafle, a bureaucrat, to investigate and prosecute corrupts. Under the leadership of Kafle, CIAA had filed some serious cases, though its anti-corruption movement was not as effective as it was under the leadership of its former Chief Surya Nath Upadhayay. “We waited for three years, but the government and the political parties failed to make appointments in the constitutional anti-corruption agency due to their partisan interest,” Ishwori Prasad Paudel, CIAA spokesperson, said. “With due respect to the government and the political parties, we have to say that they did not show political commitment to make the CIAA effective,” Paudel added.
In the last three years, the anti-graft body had moved the court against three former Inspectors General (IGs) of the Nepal Police — Ramesh Chand Thakuri, Hem Bahadur Gurung and Om Bikram Rana — in the the multimillion Darfur corruption scandal.
Moreover, it field diplomatic passport misuse cases against half-a-dozen lawmakers, including Gayatri Shah, BP Yadav, Eka Bahadur Rana Magar and corruption case against lawmaker DB Karki.
These moves notwithstanding, Transparency International Nepal questions the legality of activities of the Kafle-led CIAA has undertaken. “We are still in confusion whether or not to accept Kafle as the commissioner because handing over the commissioner’s duty to a bureaucrat is against the spirit of the Interim Constitution,” a TIN official said. In the Sugat Ratna Kanshakar vs CIAA case, the SC had upheld the authority of the bureaucrat-headed CIAA to investigate and prosecute anyone accused of corruption. With the retirement of former Chief Commissioner Upadhayay on November 5, 2006, the anti-graft body has been without its chief commissioner and this has made the anti-graft movement weaker.
Recently, the Supreme Court convicted former minister and influential Nepali Congress leader Khum Bahadur Khadka in a graft case that Upadhayay had filed when he was CIAA chief. “Though we have been demanding the government and the political parties to fill up vacancies, they have failed to make appointments as they are driven by petty interests,” senior advocate Shree Hari Aryal, who is also secretary general of TIN, said. Aryal also accused the government and the parties of ignoring the voice of stakeholders and pressure groups.