Kathmandu, November 28
Mandatory provision of 20 years of experience in accounting, revenue, engineering, law, development, or research for appointment to the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority has been serving the interest of former bureaucrats. Owing to the provision, mostly former bureaucrats have been appointed as office bearers of the anti-graft body.
Article 238 (6) of the constitution stipulates that to be eligible for office bearer of the CIAA, one needs to have at least 20 years of experiences in the field of either accounting, revenue, engineering, law, development or research. Apart from meeting these qualifications one should be a distinguished personality.
The constitution stipulates 20 years of experience for one to be appointed in the National Human Rights Commission, CIAA, Auditor General’s Office, Natural Resource and Fiscal Commission. However, no such requirement exists for appointment in the Election Commission.
According to the constitution, a person who has made outstanding contribution, for at least ten years in the field of rights and interests of women or gender justice or women development or human rights and law qualifies to be appointed in the National Women Rights Commission.
However, one needs to have only 10 years of such experience for appointment in the Dalit Commission, the National Inclusion Commission, the Tharu Commission, the Madhesi Commission, the Indigenous Nationalities Commission and the Muslim Commission.
Senior Advocate Surendra Kumar Mahto and Advocate Sunil Ranjan Singh said the requirement of 20 years of experience was irrelevant as people could acquire enough experience in one field in five to 10 years.
They said the bureaucrats intentionally included the 20-year-experience clause in the constitution to serve their vested interests. “If we look at the history of the CIAA appointment, most of the office bearers including its chairperson are former bureaucrats and professors. Appointment of freelancers in the CIAA is almost nil,” Mahto added. He said the constitution and laws had contradictory provisions regarding experience. “Why is there 20 years of experience clause for the CIAA and 10 years of experience clause for other commissions? Does this mean that other commissions where only 10 years of experience is required, are inferior?” Mahto wondered.
He said the eligibility criteria must be revised to do away with the 20 years of experience requirement in the CIAA and some other commissions.
Singh argued that a candidate who has obtained multiple masters degree and even PhD degree at the age of 30 or 35 years should be allowed to serve as an office bearer of the CIAA if he/she meets other qualifications.
Senior Advocate Surendra Bhandari said even if the 20 years of experience clause remained unchanged, the government must not appoint former bureaucrats in the CIAA to ensure its impartiality. “We see cases of former secretaries being indicted in corruption cases, so the government should not appoint former bureaucrats in the CIAA to ensure that the anti-graft body acts independently and impartially,” he said.
A version of this article appears in print on November 29, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.