The Mallik way

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Tuesday directed the government to recover the state funds misused by three ministers in the erstwhile king-led Cabinet - Kamal Thapa (over Rs.9.7 million), Tanka Dhakal (over Rs. 700,000), and Shrish SJB Rana (over Rs.3.6 million). After the high-level investigation commission headed by former Supreme Court justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi — formed to probe the excesses committed in trying to suppress Jana Andolan II — had submitted its report two years ago, the government, under heavy public pressure, had entrusted the CIAA with the task of acting against certain ministers under corruption charges. Most of the accused, including the then king Gyanendra, have faced no action. They, including security personnel, went scot-free; some of them even got promotions. The government did not even suspend all the chiefs of the four security forces, despite the commission’s directive to that effect to facilitate the inquiry. Finally, the commission came out with its report, charging a total of 201 persons; 45 with corruption, and the rest with human rights-related offences.

Of the corruption-accused, all the others have been cleared. According to the acting CIAA chief, Lalit Bahadur Limbu, the three were guilty of ‘misconduct’ for abusing their authority by drawing the money from the state treasury and distributing it in violation of the CIAA Act, 1991. These three have the option of going to the apex court challenging the CIAA decision. However, the court verdicts alone may make clear whether all or any of the three will have to return the money. As for action against the head of the Cabinet and two vice chairmen, Dr Tulsi Giri and Kirtinidhi Bista, the CIAA said it could do nothing as the post-Jana Andolan Cabinet, on February 8, 2007, had decided not to take any action against them. Then questions may arise whether it is fair and proper to punish only these three people. Were only these three responsible for misusing the public coffers or for attempting to quell the Nepali people’s pro-democracy movement?

The Rayamajhi Commission had been formed, it seems in hindsight, just to pacify the agitated

people shouting for tough action against the guilty. Long after the report had been submitted, the government had sat on it. Only sustained public pressure had compelled the government to appear to be doing something about it. Even then, several government leaders, including Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, had gone on record saying that action had already been taken against the guilty, and no more could be expected. And the end-result is there for all to see. In essence, the Rayamajhi Commission report has gone the way of the report of the Mallik Commission that had been formed after the successful 1990 pro-democracy movement for a similar purpose. Later, political leaders conceded in public that the report had gathered dust because they had reached a prior understanding with the then king not to take any action against anybody. Then, too, some of those charged in the Mallik report scaled new highs in their government careers.