KATHMANDU, Feb 11: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Friday asked the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to respect the standing of the individuals concerned while investigating corruption charges.
Referring to the CIAA’s announcement, when he was visiting India in September, that it was going to investigate him and other senior leaders of his party over irregularities at the Maoist cantonments, Dahal expressed serious dissatisfaction over the working style of the anti-graft body.
“The bitter experience I had to undergo during my state visit to the neighboring country should not happen again in future,” Dahal said while addressing a function organized to mark the CIAA’s anniversary on Friday. “I urge the commission members to be clear about this,” he added at the function, which was attended by President Bidyadevi Bhandari and other top officials.
The CIAA, then headed by Lokman Singh Karki, had hastily organized a press conference to announce that the anti-graft body was going to begin investigates into embezzlement of millions at the Maoist cantonments that were maintained with state funds. When CIAA officials made the announcement, Dahal was busy holding bilateral meetings with his Indian counterpart and other leaders in India.
The announcement was made just hours after the Supreme Court ordered the government to produce the minutes related to Karki’s appointment as CIAA chief. He was under suspicion of not having the 20 years of work experience required for holding the position. Karki was later disqualified by the apex court.
Friday’s warning from the head of government comes at a time when the anti-graft body has been demanding reinstatement of its powers to investigate improper conduct by officials in public positions and expansion of its mandate in accordance with the UN convention against corruption. The new constitution promulgated in 2015 has curtailed the CIAA’s power to investigate improper conduct by public officials.
“The public standing of the person in question must be taken into consideration while investigating corruption cases against that individual. But this doesn’t mean that any culprit should get a chance to get away with wrongdoing. Also, the innocent should not suffer under any circumstances,” said Dahal.
Dahal blamed lack of coordination among several anti-graft oversight bodies and conflict of interest among offices concerned as major the obstacles in controlling corruption. “The government for its part will put in the necessary efforts for better coordination,” he added.
Acting CIAA chief Deep Basnyat said the commission was committed to controlling corruption. He, however, complained that the anti-corruption drive has become hampered mainly after CIAA’s power to investigate was curtailed by the constitution.
“The drive against corruption may not gather momentum as per public expectations, given the curtailing of its authority. In this context, I hope the agencies concerned will support the empowerment of the CIAA,” said Basnyat.