June 6, 2018 02:00 AM NPT
Fake certificates in Nepal Army
If the persons entrusted to lead the key organs of the state such as defense, civil service and judiciary are found to have reached those posts based on fake certificates—of birth or academic qualification—it at least indicates two troubling signs. One, our process of promoting officials in top posts is not transparent. Or that those who reach the coveted posts manage to do so on political patronage, the required educational qualification be damned. If this is to happen in country’s defense body, it sends even more troubling message. This is precisely what has been suspected within Nepal Army now. Ministry of Defense (MoD) has rejected a proposal from the Nepal Army (NA) headquarters to extend the terms of Major General Deepak Prasad Bharati and brigadier generals Surya Khanal and Prem Shahi citing some discrepancies in their citizenship details and academic credentials.
Bharati—who previously worked as General Officer in Commanding (GOC) of NA’s far western command and several other key positions—was retiring on Monday. Yet, NA was still pushing for extending his tenure so as to allow him to remain in service for two more years because he is apparently close to Army chief Rajendra Chhetri. We are afraid this will discredit reputation of the national army—that is still considered to be apolitical and fair institution by many. Rampant use of fake birth certificates and education certificates has been suspected inside NA. CoAS Chhetri himself faces allegation of forging his birth certificate, though he denies the claim. Sadly, despite complaints over widespread use of fake certificates, neither the government nor the NA headquarters has carried out serious investigations. A probe panel had been formed in 2013 to investigate academic certificate of the then brigadier general Hem Khatri but nobody knows about the progress since the findings have not been made public. Defense Ministry should take this issue seriously and expedite the investigation process on fake certificates. Rejecting the proposal won’t suffice.
A number of top officials in Nepal Police, Nepal Army and our bureaucracy are suspected of having fake certificates. Despite several commitments to punish such officials, there has not been much progress on the ground. Tragically, a recent such case was related with the Supreme Court—the apex judicial body that is not only expected to deliver justice but also uphold its image of integrity. Gopal Parajuli, then the chief justice, did not only earn ignominy for his faulty activities as the judge but also set the wrong example of by becoming perhaps the first chief justice to lie about his birth and academic certificates. The Judicial Council in May had to relieve him from the post upon finding that he had submitted fake birth certificates. Following this Department of Civil Personal Records announced to make pension book of Parajuli only after he returns the additional facilities of seven months and nine days—the period he had served based on fake credentials. Parajuli remains a discredited person in the eyes of people. He was asked to return the perks and salary of that period. Similar investigation needs to be conducted on army officials accused of holding fake certificates and they need to be penalized if found guilty. Nepal Army must remain the institution where the best of the best with true credentials serve.