CIAA probing graft charges against poll panel

Kathmandu, January 7

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority has begun investigating allegations of corruption against the Election Commission.

Spokesperson for the CIAA Padam Prasad Pandey told THT that two complaints had been lodged, claiming that funds for four programmes, including voters education programme, were embezzled.

One complainant stated that the EC, which always got ballot papers printed by Janak Education Material Centre, procured an offset press to print ballot papers on its own, but eventually  got all the ballot papers printed by the JEMC. The complainant alleged that the intention of buying offset press was to misuse funds. The complainants alleged that government funds were also embezzled in the name of buying luxury vehicles. They claimed that staff deployed on poll duty were given allowances illegally.

“We have already started investigating these allegations,” Pandey said. “We try to make sure that no attempt to evade or erase evidence succeeds in the course of our investigation,” Pandey added. He, however, said the meeting between CIAA officials and EC office bearers on January 3 was not related to allegations of corruption lodged against EC office bearers.

The CIAA investigates cases in three stages - screening stage, preliminary investigation and detailed investigation. Screening committee of the CIAA has decided to send complaints against the EC to the preliminary investigation committee. The CIAA records statements of the corruption accused during the detailed investigation phase.

Sources said complaints of corruption were lodged against EC office bearers during local level elections but the EC decided to wait till the completion of elections because it did not want to be seen as a body spoiling elections that were being held after 20 years.

When asked to comment on the CIAA probe, an election commissioner said, “I do not think we have erred. We followed the same model that we had followed in the previous elections and the process was completed by government employees.”  The commissioner added, “It is possible that many people who want to sign contract with the EC for several types of work, do not get what they want and can always lodge complaints against the EC.”