The Lok Man case represents the true face of our political system. It is an attitude that has become our social system. His case represents how this country is run by our politicians, bureaucrats and others
The impeachment issue of Lok Man Singh Karki,who is currently suspended as chief of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), has brought Nepal’s politics to the boil once again.
He has been accused of running a ‘parallel government’ and of abusing his powers. The divisions among individuals, politicians and civil society on this issue seem deep and naturally the consequences will be huge and far-reaching.
Unexpectedly, parliamentarians from both the governing CPN Maoist Centre and the main opposition CPN-UML registered the impeachment motion at the Parliament Secretariat, and debate on the impeachment motion against this chief of the anti graft body started a few weeks ago in the House.
An impeachment process against any public authority for misuse of their power and conduct is no more than an ordinary political and constitutional function of the state.
It is just one aspect of implementing a constitutional and legal provision. Why is there so much division among us on such a national issue? It seems as though the ghost of Lok Man is haunting everybody in the country including senior politicians, members of civil society and the media.
Why are we making a mountain out of a molehill? What will happen to his political corruption cases against many leaders and individuals in the post-Lok Man era?
The impeachment process is going to be one of the first to be experienced by us both as a nation and a country.
Despite the huge divisions among us on the issue, however, I suggest that we take the impeachment motion as a collective and common project aimed at achieving greater justice and improving our political and social system. Justice must be the end. Serving the rule of law and achieving constitutionalism must be the end.
Lok Man is accused of having misused his power in targeting innocent businessmen, politicians, and lawyers while silencing critics and others. He is accused of acting as a “king” in the new republic.
The norms and values of the rule of law, our constitutional parameters and our traditions and customs must be protected. Keeping the rule of law alive must be the aim of punishing Lok Man if found guilty. The law as a tool must be the supreme authority and guideline.
The newly tabled impeachment process against Karki must follow a normal political and legal course. Parliament must regard this as their normal duty.
Because of this, other major functions of the state that lie ahead such as state rebuilding, the transitional justice process, implementing the new constitution and holding future local elections must not be neglected.
The impeachment motion must also be seen as a process of making history, establishing a way for the future should similar cases arise.
Critics have argued that the impeachment motion was tabled against Lok Man by politicians seeking to cover up their own corrupt activities because Lok Man was threatening them.
Not long ago, these were the same leaders who had no objection – despite a huge public outcry – to appointing him as chief of the CIAA. The whole nation knows that our present PM Prachanda proposed him as chief, Dr Bhattarai praised him as a clean and able individual, and KP Oli, leader of CPN-UML, defended the cause.
Are these leaders really sincere towards the people, the nation and our laws? The individuals who appointed Lok Man in the first place must be answerable to the people.
Some leaders and individuals of the so-called civil society are fearful because of one individual. Why are they afraid? Did Lok Man devise a plot against them, against their corrupt activities? Only the future will reveal the truth, and the people will certainly demand that truth.
The whole country seems to be running after one individual. The impeachment process against Karki must not result from revenge being taken by any political bosses.
It will be regrettable if the tabled impeachment motion was an outcome of fear. If that is so, the purpose of the whole justice system will have failed.
The Lok Man case represents the true face of our political system. It is an attitude that has become our social system. His case represents a style of how this country is run by our politicians, bureaucrats and others. It represents a system of manipulation, failure and domination.
impeachment motion at the House must be seen as an opportunity to reform all our public offices, including the constitutional organs. All must be made more law-abiding, transparent and accountable.
This must be a lesson to be learnt from the Lok Man impeachment process. As the struggle for power has a tendency to become barbaric, appointing Lok Man as chief of the CIAA a few years ago was part of a power struggle between the political forces.
Today’s case is nothing but a negative consequence of the excessive political bhagbanda between the political parties. This practice must be stopped and only able, moral and publicly acceptable individuals must be appointed to run such important public offices in the future.
The struggle to establish a corruption-free society must be our prime social and political objective.
If Lok Man is found guilty of misconduct, as claimed, he deserves punishment as per the law. The true face and intention of our politicians may then be formally revealed.
Dr Basnet holds a PhD degree from Lancaster University
A version of this article appears in print on November 25, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.