Civil society: Watchdog role
The CIAA, which has been reduced to an authority of investigating, should always be careful and well prepared with sufficient proofs while levelling charges of corruption against any individual. Some civil society members and Dixit himself have alleged his arrest as an act of vengeance by the CIAA chief as several persons, including Dixit, had vehemently opposed his appointment to the post
Of late, two constitutional bodies, which have come under criticisms, are the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Commission for Inquiry of Abuse of Authority (CIAA).
The NHRC has been criticized by the government, especially by PM KP Sharma Oli and the Commission for Inquiry of Abuse of Authority by the civil society.
Knowingly or unknowingly, PM Oli deliberately summoned the NHRC members and sought clarification over the presentation by NHRC commissioner Mohana Ansari during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in mid-March.
While presenting the human rights conditions in Nepal she had to criticize the government for handling the Madhesi movement through the use of excessive force.
It seems that security agencies acted as per direction of the government.
The PM’s action of summoning and calling for explanation invited criticisms from international rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Justice and the Asian Human Rights Commission, including a few civil society members and human rights activists.
They have objected to the PM’s act of summoning and seeking clarification from the NHRC, especially Mohana Ansari, showing his disrespect to the institution taking the report as her personal assessment.
The chief of the NHRC clarified that it was the assessment of the Commission and not of the individual member. It was commonly felt that it was neither proper for the PM to summon the NHRC officials nor for the rights body to comply with his orders.
The NHRC’s highlighting of the repressive measures of the government externally may help take action against the security officers responsible after due investigation preventing such violation of the human rights in the future.
The constitution provides for constitutional bodies for discharging their functions independently insulated from the pressures of the government.
Hence, special care was taken to ensure the impartiality and independence of the bodies through its procedure of appointment and removal like the Supreme Court justices.
They are to be recommended by the Constitutional Council comprising of the PM, Chief Justice, Speaker, Leader of Opposition in the Lower House and deputy speaker and can be removed only by two-thirds majority in the Lower House of Parliament.
At times these bodies have to censure the government for not acting as per law. Since the government does not appoint the members, they are supposed not to obey its orders.
The arrest of the noted journalist and chairman of Sajha Yatayata Kanak Mani Dixit on April 22 by the CIAA invited public criticisms by civil society and mass media.
Although CIAA was allowed by the Special Court to extend his detention for ten days for investigation, Dixit was released on May 2 by the Supreme Court order to the CIAA to release him from the detention.
The release order was passed by a division bench in response to the habeas corpus writ filed by his wife.
The civil society had come out against the arrest of Dixit.
Civil society is a loose organization or group, in which an individual or a group expresses its concerns on national issues and also on the rights/interests of the citizens that are being encroached upon by the state and its organs.
It has to play the role of a watchdog.
It must be objective and should not be selective in its business. But in Nepal it is customary to be selective as civil society members, who have raised the issue of arrest of Dixit, hardly spoke against the excessive force used by the government in other cases such as the agitation in the Tarai-Madhes or the agitations launched by various groups in recent times.
The CIAA, which has been reduced to an authority of investigating, should always be careful and well prepared with sufficient proofs while levelling charges of corruption against any individual whether he a holder of high office or anybody else.
Some civil society members and Dixit himself have alleged his arrest as an act of vengeance by the CIAA chief as several persons, including Dixit, had vehemently opposed his appointment to the post.
This act of revenge, perceived or deliberate, has not only lowered the prestige of the chief but also of the entire institution. After his appointment, to be fair in his decisions, he could have taken out of his mind who opposed him and who supported him.
If the CIAA has really exposed the financial irregularities leading to corruption, committed by Dixit, then it would be lauded after the final judgment is delivered.
Since it is only an investigating institution, the final judgment will be delivered by the court in due course.
Till such time critics have to wait patiently.