New constitution limits jurisdiction: SC tells CIAA

Published On: August 6, 2016 03:00 AM NPT By: Nabin Khatiwada

KATHMANDU, Aug 6: The Supreme Court on Friday reminded the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) that the new Constitution of Nepal has limited the jurisdiction of the anti-corruption body to only investigating  corruption perpetrated by individuals in public positions.

Responding to a writ petition filed by seven professors at the Institute of Medicine (IoM), the single bench of Justice Aananda Mohan Bhattarai said that the new Constitution has not included within the jurisdiction of the CIAA any investigation of 'improper acts' although the Interim Constitution did mentioned such jurisdiction.

The bench has also issued an interim order to the CIAA and to Tribhuwan University (TU) not to take any further action against the seven IOM professors.

Dr Bimal Kumar Sinha, Dr Saradraj Onta, Dr Jagadish Prasad Agrawal, Dr Dinesh Binod Pokharel, Dr Madhu Dixit Devkota, Assitant Professor Raj Devi Adhikari and Dr Krishna KC had filed the writ petition claiming that the CIAA's decision to write to TU to take action against them for their allegedly 'improper act' was unconstitutional under the new Constitution of Nepal.  They had claimed that they were not involved in any 'improper act' and argued that the new Constitution has not authorized the CIAA to take action against any 'improper act'.

The CIAA had written to TU to seek clarifications from the professors, alleging that they acted improperly in allocating more MBBS and BDS seats for Gandaki Medical Collage without the proper verifications.

Following instructions from the CIAA, the TU administration asked the professors to furnish their clarifications. And although they submitted their clarifications, the administration asked them for further clarifications, stating that the first clarifications were not satisfactory.

"A question has surfaced whether Chapter III of the CIAA Act 1991 is still relevant under the new Constitution and there is a serious question mark over the existence of Clause 12 under this chapter," stated the bench. Chapter III of the Act has provisions regarding improper action and Clause 12 provided for the CIAA sending written requests for departmental action against persons involved in improper actions.

Based on the written request of the CIAA dated May 19, 2016, the TU registrar had sought clarifications from the professors on June 21 and further clarifications on July 31.

Considering that the letters to the professors from the TU registrar were not written independently but as per the direction of the CIAA, the bench has issued the stay order, stating that the new Constitution has limited the jurisdiction of the anti-graft body.

The steps taken by the CIAA and TU have been criticized by medical experts, arguing that the moves are an effort to compromise the senior professors, who could become IoM dean on the basis of seniority, and to appoint someone junior who is more favorable to CIAA chief Lokman Singh Karki. Karki is said to have been meddling with medical education in the country ever since his appointment as CIAA chief. Likewise, legal experts have been arguing that CIAA chief Karki has been using provisions of the CIAA Act which run contrary to the Constitution and are irrelevant to it to get individuals into trouble and taint their images. 

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