Message From Karki's Disqualification
The Supreme Court on Sunday gave Lok Man Singh Karki, the suspended chief commissioner of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), its marching order citing that he was deficient of qualification and high moral character so necessary for a person to hold the high office of the powerful constitutional body.
The verdict of the apex court that reviewed its own past judgment on the appointment of the controversial CIAA boss has effectively ended what many called the "terror" of Karki, who came to CIAA helm during the very fluid political time some three and half years back. Karki was appointed by a government led by the then chief justice Khil Raj Regmi with the support of major political parties and their leaders.
Karki started drawing wider flak for his working style and abuse of authority as the chief of one of the most powerful constitutional bodies of the nation. Reports gleaned from the media suggested that Karki was actually using his position to threaten and bring into submission several bureaucrats, political leaders, top police officials and also those who do not fall under the purview of the anti-graft body. Under his tutelage, the CIAA used to threaten many of these with cases of corruption and misappropriation. Out of deep fear of facing corruption charges from the anti-graft body, the bureaucrats, politicians, police officials and others were reluctant to speak out, let alone moving court against Karki, who was quite vindictive throughout his stint at the CIAA.
Now that Karki is gone, these people must have heaved a deep sigh of relief and a large chunk of people including the media cutting across larger spectrum are thanking a young lawyer, Om Prakash Aryal, who relentlessly fought court battles against his appointment. In his petition earlier, lawyer Aryal contended that Karki lacked qualification as mentioned in the constitution to become the chief of the anti-graft body. Aryal argued that the services at the then Royal Palace by Karki, who rose to the higher position through a royal edict, should not be counted in his experience as a highly positioned civil servant. Also, Karki, who was indicted by the Rayamajhi Commission for his role in suppressing the People's Movement II, and had faced corruption charges from the CIAA when he was the head of the Custom Department. But Aryal's first petition lodged against the "unconstitutional" appointment had failed to dislodge Karki after a Supreme Court division bench had justified his appointment.
The apex court that accepted the two basic contentions of plaintiff Aryal, who moved court for the second time through his review petition, also cancelled all the procedures followed to appoint Karki through its certiorari and issued its mandamus to the Council of Ministers and the Constitutional Council to appoint a person to the CIAA top job who holds qualification and high moral character as mentioned in the constitution.
Karki's appointment was a highly controversial topic when the matter was brought forward some three and half years ago. The media, civil society, a large section of political parties and society had gone against his appointment. However, the then Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Regmi, and top leaders of major parties appeared hell-bent on appointing him. As the voices against Karki rose higher, Chairman Regmi threatened to resign if Karki was not appointed to the CIAA helm. The then President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav also made a U-turn on his earlier position of blocking his appointment.
After the appointment, many pointed their accusing finger toward the Southern neighbour for egging on the Chairman Regmi and leaders of all hues for Karki's appointment. Former Prime Minister Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai had then waxed eloquent over Karki's appointment and went on saying that he was the most capable bureaucrat of the nation to be appointed as the CIAA chief.
Despite coming to the CIAA helm under controversial circumstances, Karki failed to maintain the dignity of his constitutional position. Karki had a tendency to overlook not only the summons of the court, but also of the Parliament and its various committees. He was widely alleged of abusing his own authority and of running a reign of terror in the nation in the name of controlling corruption and abuse of authority. He intercepted many low positioned employees; he deliberately let "big fishes" off the hook. He was further alleged to have utilised his position to amass property while giving unlimited spaces to his relatives and near and dear ones. He went beyond the CIAA jurisdiction to extend his interference almost everywhere, including medical studies and various other sectors. His interference is so extensive in the medical studies sector that Dr. Govinda K.C. had demanded that Karki be given marching order through an impeachment motion in the Parliament.
Actually, the apprehension as well as abuse of authority of Karki was increasing every single day. It was the politicians who developed a deep fear of the revengeful Karki. Their fear had found expression in their well-thought out plan of lodging an impeachment motion in the Parliament on October 18, 2016, which led to an automatic suspension of Karki.
After the apex court disqualified Karki, the major political parties have appeared in a fix- whether to move ahead with impeaching Karki. If they give up impeachment process which has now reached the parliament's impeachment committee, then Karki holds a distant hope to get appointment in some other bodies because the court has only disqualified him to remain as CIAA chief.
The verdict of the apex court underlies another truth- justice would ultimately be delivered. The court verdict is indeed a slap on the faces of many leaders, political parties and those who supported the appointment of highly controversial man as the boss of the one of the most powerful constitutional institutions of the nation. The political parties, especially, the three major ones, could have saved their blushes, had they moved ahead with the impeachment motion in the Parliament. But they seemed to have procrastinated on the impeachment. Before they could gather the required number of votes for impeaching Karki, the apex court disqualified Karki, which again saved the parties from going through another difficult phase of impeaching the same person who they had supported in the past.
The verdict has unequivocally sent a message to the leaders and the parties that they must not appoint the people with tainted images or controversial past at key positions, because it would ultimately backfire on them. The disqualification of Karki gives us another message that the apex court is there in the nation that listens to the honest contentions and arguments of the petitioners who want justice against any illegal things taking place in the country. On the other hand, the court verdict serves as a strong message to our political parties and their leaders that they must be courageous enough to stave off any pressures that are piled up by several power centres in key appointments and other matters.