CIAA: Coming of Age, Fast
Unlike other constitutional bodies, CIAA is often under fire, especially when it takes up a case and goes to the court. If it delays in doing so, then there are severe criticisms, too. Normally, there are comments in the market that it only catches small fish and leaves the big ones out. People also jump on its decision taken in haste; they argue and wish for its failure in the case.
CIAA thorny bed, always
If sweeping arguments like the ones cited above that appear in the media are to believe, then there is no corruption in Nepal. The fact is: this country will have to go a long way before a sizable percentage of corruption is cleaned and proven culprits are locked inside. A large percentage of people, for example the civil society, is always in favour of strong action against corruption wherever it takes place. But such voices are not as strong as CIAA would have wanted as a back up force.
Once again, CIAA chief Lok Man Singh Karki burst out in anger with extremely pointed argument, well analyzed logic and strong sense of confidence and determination. And, the good part was that he captured the attention of the sizable portion of his audience. He not only received complete attention but loud acclamation as if he were to embark on taking strong action over what he claimed to be the historic decision he had taken. Soon, this particular audience comprising of chosen literary figures, artists, academicians, intellectuals and journalists realized he did not have the right and authority to take action against the perpetrators but could recommend for this and that was what he has been doing during his term as the Chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) of Nepal.
The occasion was the award presentation ceremony organised by NAI (Narendra-Indira) Prakashan, a Kathmandu-based publishing house that was born decades ago under the patronage of Karki’s father Gen Bhupal Man Singh. That NAI has been doing highly appreciable job in the field of publication of literary books and presenting awards to noted scholars in several fields for years is not new. NAI couple itself has authored scores of literary books and biographies and received appreciation from a wide range of readers and critics. The latest, made public on the occasion by CIAA Chief and edited by Indira Prasai is a compilation on Poet Bhanu Bhakta.
As he rose to speak, CIAA Chief Karki was full of appreciation for NAI for bringing out volumes of literary creation and for selecting creative individuals from various fields for presenting several awards. He compared their effort with what the government is doing in this field and said, ‘NAI has done definitely better in this field being a private organization.’
Servant of the people
The better and longer part of Karki’s speech centred around his responsibility, commitment and expectation from the people that he has been serving sincerely from day One. While in Australia on the invitation of the Minister of Law and Justice there, Karki was asked about his boss. Karki had replied, ‘My boss is no other than the people of Nepal.’ That was a prompt and apt response but he had to furnish further explanation to prove it and convince his host.
Over the years people of Nepal have wanted to know the answer to queries, such as: Where is CIAA today and what is this high profile and expensive organization of the government doing? In a country suffering from ever growing corruption and unnatural way of life of a small group of nouveau rich people, definitely the lower strata has high expectation from this organization. Karki’s speech was focused on these expectations. He was clear but descriptive in his analysis. But his almost an hour-long speech didn’t create boredom in the audience. That is: people do approve the decision his good office is taking in filing corruption related cases against the culprits.
In a similar programme one year ago, Karki was pretty much confident in reaching out to corruption centres and corrupt individuals. This scribe had jotted down major thrust of his presentation focusing on CIAA policy and action plan. He had entered the hall with the good news that some much sought after ‘fish’ was finally in his net. This time also he disclosed a big news that an MP, who was found leading a highly luxurious life way beyond (about 50%) his income, was taken to the court. When he disclosed this, there was a whisper or two in which people were not sure about the verdict of the ‘special court.’ People thought such individuals have gone scot-free before and this cannot be ruled out again.
In terms of its life, CIAA has come of age. It has the right kind of leadership at the moment. The need is, as Karki claimed, popular backing so his office feels energized to continue its effort to clean the society from power abuse and other forms of corruption. This is important and this is urgent as well.
While offering ‘vote of thanks’ Dr. Ram Prasad Uprety of TUTH said corruption and abuse of power must be eliminated with the kind of leadership CIAA currently has. His MBBS students were all set and ready to cooperate in a bid to clean the country and society from such evils. As future doctors, they realize these bugs and insects are creating big hurdles in development. Like Karki said this country cannot be a hostage of 150-200 individuals who weild power and run the country through their dangerous networks in all sectors of the society. These people need full and complete elimination from society if the country has to prosper.
Finally, new democracies have multifaceted problems. Yet, with strong political will and determination problems can be solved. Unnecessary protection provided to culprits of all categories creates frustration among the people. People have laid their hopes on CIAA and want to see it rid the country of corruption.