KATHMANDU, Oct 5: Staying the decision of Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Jitendra Narayan Dev to transfer Director General of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Sanjiv Gautam back to the ministry, the Election Commission (EC) has paved the way for him to continue in his present job.
Minister Dev on September 26 had decided to transfer CAAN DG Gautam back to the ministry after seeking clarifications from him on two separate occasions. Terming the transfer a violation of the election code of conduct, the EC the same day had sought 24-hour clarifications from the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MOCTCA) why it should not take action against those involved in transferring Gautam back to the ministry without prior EC consent.
Officials said MOCTCA furnished the clarifications only on Tuesday because of the Dashain holidays. The EC meanwhile has started studying the files submitted to it by MOCTCA and a meeting of EC officials scheduled for Thursday will take the necessary decision, according to EC Commissioner Sudheer Kumar Shah.
“There won't be any change at the top at CAAN and Gautam will continue his work as usual,” Commissioner Shah told Republica. “The decision by the tourism minister to transfer Gautam back to the ministry is a violation of the election code of conduct.”
Dev had taken a personal decision to transfer Gautam back to the ministry, allegedly under the influence of the aviation lobby and some power brokers. In an apparent bid to oust Gautam from CAAN, Dev had first sought clarifications from him on September 12. He again sought 24-hour clarifications from him on September 24, arguing that Gautam's earlier clarifications were not satisfactory.
CAAN had terminated the contract of Spanish company Constructora San Jose SA for improving Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and put it on a blacklist after it failed to complete the task by the given deadline. However, Dev sided with San Jose and then sought the first clarifications from Gautam.