KATHMANDU, Feb 15: CIAA Commissioner Raj Narayan Pathak, who has been accused of taking a Rs 7.8 million bribe from an engineering college, resigned from his position on Friday.
The resignation comes a day after the bribery allegation surfaced in the media.
Shortly after the exposure, members of parliament offered him two options: resign or face impeachment.
Also, many people had taken to social media to express their feelings and demand investigations into the affair. They demanded that Pathak should be taken into custody.
Shamed by the media exposure including social media posts, Pathak had wanted to submit his resignation through a representatives of the CIAA instead of appearing in person at the Office of the President to submit the resignation letter. But the anti-graft body rejected the idea Friday morning, saying, 'It's your personal matter and you should deal with it yourself.'
With no other option left, Pathak reached the President's Office in person later in the day. His resignation has preempted any impeachment process.But the resignation has raised another question. Will Pathak now be booked for involvement in bribery ?
Sources at the CIAA said Pathak is already under police surveillance and he can be taken 'under control' any time. “It's too early to comment on our next move. But the commission will act in a couple of days,” said CIAA spokesperson Rameshwor Dangal.
The spokesperson was not clear whether Pathak will be taken into CIAA custody in connection with the bribery allegations.
But going by past precedent, it's hard to believe the CIAA will really go after Pathak .
Once public officials quit their posts following accusations of misconduct, the accusations are never pressed home . Holding such officials accountable has always been a far cry. Experts say the tendency of letting such accusations lapse once the accused steps down from public office has contributed hugely to the promotion of impunity .
In January 2017, Lokman Singh Karki was removed as chief of the CIAA after the Supreme Court concluded that he had abused his authority and was also not eligible for the post. Following the court ruling Karki stopped going to office. But there was no probe into the accusations of misconduct. Nor were those involved in recommending Karki for CIAA chief called to account.
Lharkyal Lama, accused of possessing the citizenship of multiple countries, was removed from the cabinet in the Jhalanath Khanal government., Nepal's ambassador to Australia Lucky Sherpa was removed just a few weeks ago following a charge of her involvement in human trafficking. But no investigations were carried out against either of them. Lama in fact made a comeback as lawmaker.
Returning to the Pathak case, fingers are being pointed at Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and CIAA chief Nabin Kumar Ghimire for their reluctance to take action against the bribery-accused commissioner. Both Oli and Ghimire were briefed about the case along with video footage.
“It would have been best if they [Oli and Ghimire] had taken immediate action against Pathak once he was clearly implicated. If the CIAA does not take any action now, it will be a major setback for the fight against corruption,” said former CIAA chief Suryanath Upadhya. “I believe the CIAA will not miss this opportunity.”