It does not bode well for anyone to have the security forces drawn into controversy time and again

Dhiraj Pratap Singh has been appointed the new Inspector General of Police (IGP), but not without creating a furore in the police force and criticism from different sectors for lack of transparency in the appointment. A meeting of the Council of Ministers held on Sunday had taken the decision to appoint him as Nepal's 29th IGP, notwithstanding the fact that there were two Additional Inspectors General (AIG) senior to him. Four AIGs, namely Bishwaraj Pokhrel, Sahakul Bahadur Thapa, Rabindra Bahadur Dhanuk and Singh, were vying for the top police post, but the government decided on appointing Singh to lead the 80,000-strong police force. Singh succeeds Shailesh Thapa Kshetri, who retired on Sunday upon completing 30 years of service in the Nepal Police.

As in the past, when controversial appointments were made by the government, the two AIGs who have been superseded – Pokharel and Thapa – are expected to move the Supreme Court for justice. If Singh gets to continue, he will serve the highest post for a year before retiring upon completing his tenure.

The appointment of police personnel to the top post has invited controversy ever since then Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam dismissed IGP Achyut Krishna Kharel in March 1996 to replace him with Dhruva Pradhan. But Pradhan got to serve only nine months after the Supreme Court reinstated Kharel as the IGP, who continued to serve a full term till Sep-tember 1999. In February 2017, the appointment of Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Jaya Bahadur Chand as the IGP had also generated much debate after two closest contenders Nawaraj Silwal and Prakash Aryal moved the apex court. A month later, the court annulled the government's decision saying it was ar-bitrary and unjust. The court in its verdict had said that seniority should be the norm while appointing officials to the top posts of the security forces. Only this would help maintain hierarchy and chain of command in the security forces. When outgoing IGP Shailesh Kshetri was appointed to the topmost post in July 2020, there was no outcry in the police force or from the public because he was chosen on the basis of seniority. In the latest episode, Pokharel was promoted to AIG on December 11, 2020, Thapa on June 29, 2021, and Singh and Dhanuk on March 31, 2021.

However, DIG Bishwa Raj Pokharel's promotion to AIG in 2020 by then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was also not very transparent.

It does not bode well for the police force, the government and the country at large to have the security forces drawn into controversy time and again. When appointments are not transparent and done on the whims of those in power, it sags the morale of the security forces who are supposed to maintain peace and security in the country, while disrupting the chain of command, especially at a time when officers decide to stay on leave on the eve of the local elections.

The Police Regulations have clearly provisioned for the promotion of an AIG to IG on the basis on seniority, merit and work execution, ability to lead and encourage the entire police force, and take responsibility.

The government could stay out of controversy by adhering to these provisions and not being swayed by monetary incentives and pressures to influence any promotions.

Ensure workers' rights

Marking the 133rd International Labour Day, Minister of Labour, Employment, and Social Security Krishna Kumar Shrestha has pledged to make the country's labour sector systematic and decent through the implementation of the fundamental rights related to labour as mentioned in the constitution.

Although it has been three years since the Social Security Fund (SSF) came into force, the informal sector has not been included in it.

The government has fixed a minimum wage for workers, but they are hardly paid as per the rules.

That is why people feel uncomfortable working in Nepal's construction sector to be hired by contractors.

Reports from various construction sectors, including hydropower and roads, reveal that the labourers are not paid on time, and the contractors do not follow the minimum safety guidelines. When minimum wage is far below the average wage compared to what they receive in foreign lands, Nepali workers opt to migrate to abraod for a better jobs. If the SSF is implemented even in the informal sector, unskilled labourers would not go abroad for employment.

If the country's labour sector is to be made decent and dignified, the SSF must be implemented.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 03, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.