A test case

The government has decided to make public the report of the high level commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Krishna Jung Rayamajhi which investigated the excesses and abuse of authority committed from February 1, 2005 — the day King Gyanendra took over to become head of government too — to April 2006, the height of historic Jana Andolan II, which ended this rule. This move comes after intense public and political pressure, including the widely expressed view that failure to bring the guilty to book has emboldened them to engineer and execute further mischief. Now the implicated political figures will face action after the meeting of the eight parties, but, as for the accused bureaucrats, the ministry concerned will take action. The Rayamajhi report held King Gyanendra, the then head of the Council of Ministers, chiefly responsible for the human rights violations, abuse of authority and corruption committed during the period, and recommended action against him and all the others, even if that required new legislation.

The chief point of public interest, however, will naturally be whether the main accused will face action. But the committee formed under foreign minister K P Sharma Oli on the Rayamajhi report implementation is reported to have recommended that as the constituent assembly (CA) is to decide the future of the monarchy, there is no need to act against the King now. If this is so, the logic is deeply flawed, to say the least. Implementation of the Rayamajhi report and the verdict of the CA are two totally different things and these two must not be mixed up. The CA, an elective sovereign body, will write a brand-new constitution for the country, and whether to keep the monarchy, if so, in what form, will be one of the many decisions it will be making. The Rayamajhi commission merely looked into whether King Gyanendra was guilty or not under its terms of reference. Moreover, the monarchy and a particular monarch are not one and the same thing.

Public fears of half-hearted implementation of the report are not entirely unfounded. So, the Rayamajhi report will constitute a test case for the SPA government headed by PM Girija Prasad Koirala, which has shown signs of weakness from the start, for example, when it resorted to only selective suspension of holders of high office ignoring the Rayamajhi commission’s injunction, and even promoted some of the suspects being interrogated by the commission then. The present decision to act is welcome, though late, but the delay will take some of the credit away from the SPA government. To make up the loss, however, full and sincere implementation of the entire report is essential. Selective punishment and selective justice might, under certain circumstances, can appear to be even worse than no action at all. And this particular period of the country’s history has provided these circumstances, as selectivity would tend to indicate, one way or another, the degree of government’s resolve to sweep aside the bad things and negative overtones of the past and ring in a new Nepal.