KATHMANDU, Dec 7: The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has put on hold the corruption complaints filed against eight prominent politicians and ex-bureaucrats, saying that evidence for the allegations could not be established in the course of investigations.
The anti-graft body on Sunday decided to put on hold cases related to former UML lawmaker Bijay Kumar Poudel and former ministers Tek Bahadur Thapa, Shankar Prasad Koirala and Bidhyadhar Mallik. Thapa, Koirala and Mallik were ministers in Khilraj Regmi's election government in 2013.
According to CIAA spokesperson Ganesh Raj Karki, the cases against Maoist leader and then finance minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, then minister for land reform and management Bikram Pandey of Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Maoist lawmaker Rabindra Pratap Shah and ex-minister Umakanta Jha were shelved earlier.
The cases against Mahara and Pandey were put on hold just ahead of the formation of the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government.
CIAA chief Lokman Singh Karki, who has been accused of dragging politicians and ex-bureaucrats into the CIAA net out of a sense of personal vendetta, has now been suspended on the charge of abusing his authority to silence opponents and benefit businesses operated by relatives.
The Supreme Court is also investigating his eligibility to become head of the anti-graft body and his record while the impeachment motion against him is pending in Parliament.
"Complaints filed against them could not be substantiated. That's why we have put the cases on hold for now," said spokesperson Karki. He claimed that this latest decision of the CIAA is not connected with the procedures underway against the suspended CIAA chief in Parliament and the courts.
Then CIAA chief Karki had summoned them along with various other individuals on the charge of amassing property without legal sources.
In December last year, the CIAA summoned 29 individuals including UML leaders Surendra Pandey, Rajendra Pandey, Icchyaraj Tamang, Janardan Dhakal and Banshidhar Mishra on suspicion of accumulating illegal property. Ram Kumar Shrestha, Chhabi Raj Panta, former chief secretary Bhoj Raj Ghimire, among others, were also summoned by the CIAA on the same allegations.
They accused anti-graft chief Karki of taking such action out of personal vendetta to silence criticism against him. "Case against me was guided purely by personal bias. I have no other option but to face a legal trial. Finally, justice has been done in my case," said former minister Mallik.
CIAA spokesperson Karki said he was unaware whether the corruption complaints were filed out of personal animosity. "But their cases were put on hold after failing to produce substantive evidence to prove the allegations," he said. He also informed that investigations into corruption complaints concerning the other 21 individuals out of the total of 29 were underway. "We are still investigating the other cases," he said.