Those who commit excesses while in power or those who wield power without responsibility have a tendency to seek an escape route later on when they are asked to account for their misdeeds, by feigning ignorance or giving ridiculous explanations. In the past, such tactics had been freely employed. And, now, in the present democratic order, most of the holders of important office in the now discredited royal regime who had been called to appear before the Rayamajhi investigation commission resorted to this tried-and-tested method. Currently, the chairman and members of the disbanded unconstitutional Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) are giving people free entertainment by their zany utterances. But the damage RCCC did to the rule of law as well as to individuals as a terror tool of the royal regime is no laughing matter.

This week its head and members came face to face with a three-member commission — headed by appellate court judge Madhav Prasad Ojha — which is investigating RCCC’s excesses. Two RCCC members Raghuchandra Bahadur Singh and Haribabu Chaudhary said they not only did not give orders for the arrest of former PM Sher Bahadur Deuba but were also unaware of it at the time. RCCC chairman Bhakta Bahadur Koirala took the same line. RCCC secretary Shambhu Khadka, a sitting judge appointed to the RCCC by the King, and member Prem Bahadur Khati told the panel that they had only done their duty as per “orders from above”. In yet another issue, Koirala claimed that only after the case had been registered with RCCC did he come to know that the distribution of Rs. 4.1 million out of the PM’s Relief Fund had been based on a cabinet decision. Claiming that he is not answerable for every RCCC decision, Koirala dumped the onus on those “who took decisions”.

The public had been told then that Deuba had been arrested on RCCC’s orders. If RCCC bigwigs did not know about it, they had themselves to blame. If something had been done in their name without their knowledge, their first reaction would have been to disown it, or even resign in protest. But they did nothing of the kind, rather they acted according to the script written by the regime. In defending RCCC against a writ petition challenging its very existence in the Supreme Court, these very men had told the court that as the King had created RCCC, the court could not examine its legality. Now they have also admitted that they were not qualified for the posts they held at RCCC, which poached on the territories of the constitutionally formed CIAA, the anti-graft agency, and the Special Court by combining the powers of investigation, prosecution and judgement, all rolled into one. The duty of the soon-to-be-formed interim government and legislature will be to honour the spirit of the Jana Andolan II by bringing to justice all those who had abused the 1990 Constitution, committed excesses, and had a role in trying to suppress the pro-democracy mass movement.