CIAA plans dubious means to nab corrupt

Its mandate is to probe graft, not to prevent it. Its plan can be misused to trap honest officers

Kathmandu, February 24

Chief Commissioner of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority Nabin Ghimire today told Sustainable Development and Good Governance Committee of the National Assembly that CIAA officials would catch corrupt people posing as service seekers.

Ghimire said the CIAA had endorsed a manual to form rapid action task force, which would mobilise its employees in government offices that offer most important services to the public, to nab corrupt employees. He said the CIAA decided to adopt the new strategy to deter corrupt employees.

But constitutional experts Surendra Kumar Mahato, Chandra Kanta Gyawali and Bhimarjun Acharya have opposed Ghimire’s plan, saying CIAA officials could misuse it to victimise innocent government officials.

“An honest official should not be provoked to receive bribe. This plan can be misused by CIAA officials to trap honest officials,” he added. He said CIAA had the mandate to investigate corruption cases, but it had no power to take preventive measures.

Gyawali said if CIAA officials started nabbing corrupt people posing as service seekers, that would undermine democracy as they could misuse their power to nab anybody. “Anti-corruption law treats both sides -- bribe giver and briber taker -- as corrupt. Therefore, CIAA’s plan to trap corrupt officials by posing as service seekers is wrong,” he added. “Wilfully giving bribe and wilfully accepting bribe are crimes of corruption,” he added.

Constitutional expert Bhimarjun Acharya said if the CIAA sent its officials as service seekers to arrest corrupt officials, then chances of innocent people being framed would be high. “CIAA has been carrying out sting operation against which a case is sub judice at the constitutional bench,” he added. Acharya said the Indian Supreme Court had ruled in a case that arresting people on the basis of a sting operation was wrong. “There should be fair probe into allegations of graft. CIAA can probe somebody only when s/he deliberately indulges in corruption.”