‘Corruption of over Rs 10 billion in DoTM in 10 years'

Published On: February 28, 2024 10:30 AM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, Feb 28: The Department of Transport Management (DoTM) suspects that there has been corruption amounting to around Rs 10 billion in the illegal issuance of driving licenses. 

Uddhav Rijal, the department's director general, is suspicious of irregularities before he was transferred to the DoTM. It's been found that one individual paid over Rs 100,000 to obtain a license through improper means. Rijal said, "We have written to the police to look into the case of an individual who paid Rs 70,000."

According to Rijal, it appears that everyone paid at least Rs 40,000. "During our investigation, we found that those acquiring licenses illegally paid Rs 40,000 to the employees of the department," Rijal said. 

It was found that the DoTM employees charged Rs 5,000 even to those who requested for quick delivery of the license after fulfilling all the required processes legally.

"We found that the DoTM employees collected money from even those following the standard procedure to expedite the process," he added.

Rijal said that DoTM has become a primary hub of corruption in Nepal. The department conducted an internal investigation into this issue. 

"We have made the report accessible, providing it to the authorities concerned, including the Nepal Police and the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority. In addition to notifying the public prosecutor's office, we have actively engaged in discussions with them," said Rijal, the department's director general.

As per the department's assessment, the magnitude of corruption involving extortion of money from the citizens by DoTM officials is unprecedented in Nepal's history. Investigations reveal that employees of DoTM are demanding excessive sums not only for issuing license but also for transactions involving the purchase and sale of vehicles. "This aspect will also be thoroughly investigated," Rijal stated. "Currently, our focus has been on license-related irregularities; However, the discrepancies in vehicle transactions remain to be investigated."

According to the department, this scale of corruption by taking money from the citizens is the biggest in the history of Nepal. 

The department has already sent four letters to the Nepal Police but the investigation has not yet started. The Director General of the Department, Uddhav Rijal, has written four times to the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of the Nepal Police, but the police have not yet started investigation.

Similarly, he has requested the Office of the Attorney General to investigate the issue but the government agencies are not cooperating with him.  After writing to the CIB for the fourth time on February 12, Director General Rijal held discussions with CIB chief including high-ranking officials of Nepal Police.

The department first sent a letter to the CIB on January 28, asking for an investigation. The follow-up letters were sent on February 6 and 8. The CIB, however, insists that the investigation process has started. Spokesperson of CIB SP Hobindra Bogati said that after the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal 2015, many licenses were issued illegally as the work of DoTM to conduct written tests and trials for the license was handed over to the provincial governments.

Due to the provincial governments' lack of technical readiness for license distribution, DoTM, under the federal government, took on the responsibility of issuing licenses and printing smart licenses. Consequently, in such a situation, even if licenses were unlawfully issued, it couldn't be investigated. Director General Rijal took the initiative to investigate illegally distributed licenses on behalf of the department. He established an inquiry committee led by Mukesh Regmi, the department's IT head, to oversee the investigation process.

"This level of corruption by taking money from the civilians is the biggest in the history of Nepal," said Rijal, adding, “The department itself has investigated it, we have told the authorities, the police, the Public Prosecutor's Office to take action, but why is it that they have not shown any seriousness."

CIB's DSP Tapan Dahal, DoTM’s Computer Engineer Arjun Adhikari and Bodhraj Baral were the members in the committee. The report prepared by the committee has raised questions on the roles of the employees of the department regarding the irregularities in license distribution.

The department has determined that the illegal distribution of licenses constitutes a criminal offense and has requested the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) to conduct a thorough investigation. CIB’s DSP Dahal, who was a part of the investigation committee, said that there is a need for further inquiry into the department's employees. Consequently, the department has urged the CIB to undertake an independent investigation. Over the past decade, 10 director generals within the department have been removed from their positions. 

According to Director General Rijal, although the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) will look into the matter of corruption, the issuance of illegal license is also a criminal act, so the CIB has been requested to investigate.

During the investigation, it was found that only the license number was entered in the electronic driving license and vehicle registration system without revealing any name, surname, address. The authority is currently investigating the irregularities in the distribution of licenses.

When investigating the details from August 2015 to August 2023, records indicate only license numbers for over 28,000 licenses were accounted for. It includes 12,000 licenses legally issued during the tenure of 10 previous director generals of the DoTM. Surprisingly, the combined licenses issued by those 10 director generals is less than those issued by the incumbent director general, which according to the figures stand at 16,000.

It has been found that over 120,000 counterfeit licenses were distributed, with 28,000 entries recorded during the tenures of former directors generals Chandman Shrestha, Rup Narayan Bhattarai, Lavanya Dhakal, Kumar Prasad Ghimire, Gogan Bahadur Hamal, Nawaraj Ghimire, Suresh Raut, Tokraj Pandey, Tulsi Nath Gautam, and Narayan Bhattarai. Furthermore, it was even found that licenses were issued without undergoing trials, constituting a clear criminal offense. Director General Rijal said, "The department has also facilitated the investigation, and we urge for a fair inquiry into these matters."

In the past decade, over 100,000 licenses were unlawfully distributed. Even individuals involved in fatal traffic accidents acquired licenses without undergoing the required trial. Among the 28,000 licenses issued by DoTM, only the numbers are specified, indicating a lack of proper documentation and oversight. It is estimated that these licenses could have been issued under any circumstance.

The department started an investigation after it was found that 120,000 service users from 35 transport offices in the country had obtained licenses in the last 10 years without taking written tests and trials.

After Rijal revealed that the licenses were issued by tampering with the 'Electronic Driving License System' without fulfilling the legal provisions in the Motor Vehicles and Transport Management Act, the director general was physically assaulted in the department. The police have not yet arrested the person who attacked him.

The investigation report prepared by the department has pointed out that the IT branch of the DoTM was headed by Director Sri Chandra Sah and Pabitra Dangol after 2015 and their roles were suspicious. Also, computer engineers Rajkumar Maharjan, Keshav Raj Gautam, Kapila Shrestha Thaiba, Santosh Pokharal and Suraj Prakash Aryal were also in the same branch and their roles are also questionable. The committee has recommended further investigation into their roles.


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