Restructuring The CIAA
Nepali politics for the past two weeks is hovering around the issue of impeaching chief commissioner of Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) for his immoral and illegal actions bypassing the laws. Since the very beginning of his appointment, Lok Man Singh Karki has remained a controversial yet popular actor in Nepal’s governance system. In fact, his rise to power can be attributed to the decision taken by the major leaders of the mainstream political parties to offer him the CIAA berth. At a time when the general public opinion was against this decision, the main leaders in a dramatic turnaround of events consented on Karki’s name leaving question mark over the sovereignty of this decision.
Karki will now be the first person in the Nepalese parliamentary history to be impeached by a parliament motion unless anything dramatic takes place in the elusive Nepali politics. His use of threat and intimidation while at office had been so humiliating to even the honest officers that they were discouraged to discharge their duties. Furthermore, his abuse of authority has been obvious with CIAA penetrating into medical and non-governmental sector beyond its constitutional mandate. Evidences suggest that the majority of the corruption cases filed under Karki’s leadership were revengeful in nature. Whether we refer to the instance of Kanak Mani Dixit who was given clean chit by the court against the corruption charge inflicted on him or other instances in which CIAA has lost most of its filed cases at special court, it can be inferred that the sacked CIAA chief was interested only in gaining popularity by creating a hype over anti-corruption campaign.
Although tabling an impeachment motion against a man of such malafide intention is a welcome move, the manner in which it unfolded remains debatable. Against the backdrop of CIAA planning to nab top political guns including the investigation into the embezzlement of funds related to the then cantoned Maoist combatants, the motion has been lodged. In this way, this issue has also been seen as a ploy to redeem the powerful politicians from their ethical malpractices.
With the well deserved exit of Mr. Karki, critical questions on the future of CIAA has ‘come to the fore’. What sort of system needs to be developed to ensure that another Lokman can’t enter CIAA? How to structure CIAA and redefine its functions, powers and duties to promote good governance and rule of law in the country? Should there be a supreme committee above CIAA to look after its affairs? Nepali politics should handle such questions with tact and intelligence.
Setting benchmarks for appointment and selection of the CIAA chief and its commissioners embracing the component of technical expertise, professional integrity and a proven career accomplishment can be a beginning point for inducing reform. Instead of appointment based on political patronage, considering these criteria will help to get a dynamic team of experts and lessen the corruption in society. Nurturing a culture of reward and sanction for motivating the investigation officers need serious contemplation. In addition, disseminating awareness among general public about the broader concept of corruption has also become important to encourage them for combating this social evil.
Equally prominent will be the role of CIAA to ensure a fearless environment in which the government agencies can function without succumbing to undue pressure. At a time when the capital expenditure of the country has remained low due to an inherent fear of getting dragged into corruption cases, a challenging task lies ahead of CIAA to boost the morale of civil servants for better performance by punishing the offenders instead of victimizing innocent officials.
Role of Citizens
The discussion on combating corruption has increased in public forums in Nepal over the past few decades but it has remained lopsided and inadequate. Uprooting corruption from the society would require individual effort from all citizens to unitedly stand against it more by demonstrating ethical and moral behaviors. CIAA alone can’t make the society free from this evil without the genuine support of public. Improving the general moral character of society is a must. There is no point in blaming others for being corrupt and unethical when we can’t adhere to the moral principles which has been the case of Nepalese society for long. As Prithvi Narayan Shah, the architect of modern Nepal once said, not only those who take but also those who give bribe are enemies of the nation, fighting corruption is a shared responsibility. Thus, it is imperative that citizens be cautious enough not to encourage corruption. Close supervision and monitoring of the activities of government officers through public hearings and reporting of malpractices demanding further investigation to the concerned authority could be some of the ways in which they can help to tackle this problem. Creating a culture of transparency and accountability demand greater public scrutiny.