Crisis of credibility

A member of the High Level Probe Commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Krishna Jung Rayamajhi has made an accusation against the majority of commission members. Ram Kumar Shrestha on Sunday claimed that the majority absolved King Gyanendra and other ‘suppressors’ of Jana Andolan II at the behest of power brokers. According to him, the majority group also included the King’s April 24 (2006) address, which restored the parliament and conceded to the overwhelming public demand for the constituent assembly, in the commission report for the purpose. He says he was firm in his view that the King should be punished but was barred from writing a note of dissent. He argues that the commission could have recommended action against the King on sedition and treason charges as he “had acted against the state and the people” instead of what it had ‘illegally’ recommended: action for misuse of the state treasury and rights violation.

The selection of the commission members had come under public criticism, leaving doubt in many minds whether the choices had been intended to render the commission’s work effective. Later, while submitting the report, similar differences among members had surfaced in the press. Whatever the truth, one effect of all this has been to notably weaken the credibility of the Rayamajhi report. Many may now wonder therefore whether the Koirala government had been serious about taking tough action against people involved in trying to suppress the pro-democracy movement in the first place. The government’s decision to take action against some accused on corruption charges and retention or even promotion of others in government service hardly provide credible grounds for believing this way or that.

Home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula’s recent remarks that action on the report has more or less been taken, and that the act of making the report public is something of mere academic import should be taken as the government’s mood vis-a-vis the report’s implementation. The general public certainly has not felt that those guilty as named in the Rayamajhi report have faced the music. It is the duty of the government to provide the details to satisfy the people, who put it in power. Above all, by any principle or norm, justice cannot be said to have been done as long as the principal accused go scot-free. The government cannot get away by citing legal ‘loopholes’, especially a government that boasts its legitimacy is founded on the people’s revolution. Even if this kind of argument were to be accepted, under what constitutional or legal authority could the eight parties, the government and the parliament issue a historic parliamentary declaration, make far-reaching decisions, scrap the 1990 Constitution and remove Nepal’s status as a Hindu state in a Hindu-majority country, and so on? Sadly, all signs seem to be pointing to where the Rayamajhi report is heading for: where the post-1990 Mallik report was pushed to — the garden path.