Weekly Musings Anti-corruption Drive

 

Shyam K.C.

            The Supreme Court earlier this week in a ruling on a petition filed by a lawyer said that the Chief of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) did not meet the basic qualification to be the CIAA chief and therefore, asked the government to find a suitable person to lead the constitutional body. 

Facts

As is our way, it may take years to a few minutes to find a replacement. Finding a replacement will most certainly not be as easy as it was in 2013 when the prime ministerial chair was occupied by a non-partisan judge. It was during this period that Lok Man Singh Karki was appointed. But it must be kept in mind that this would not have been possible without the consent of (and maybe even connivance of) the major political parties of those days.

The person who filed the petition against the CIAA Chief must be aware of these facts and that the appointment could have come only after the approval of the major parties. The fact that at the time of the appointment there was no legislature to thoroughly check the person concerned meant that the then major parties must have been responsible for the appointment in one way or the other. As Karki took the oath of office on 8 May 2013, the Prime Minister till 14 March 2013 was Baburam Bhattarai and he too should have been aware of the ramblings going on in order to secure the appointment. But he too had kept quiet then and even today seems to have nothing substantial to say on the issue of the appointment.

            There are a number of constitutional bodies in the country designed to make the life of the people easier, safe, less painful and corruption free. The man in the street knows just how difficult it is to get things done in government and semi-government offices without some kind of expenses. For the rich and even middle class citizens, this may mean nothing much, but for the majority of the people who do not belong to these privileged classes, who have much and some to spend, needless spending is generally a big burden for which they might have to give up their evening meals.

The country has many laws, rules and even norms which, if properly observed, will help to make the life of the people much more organised, safe and corruption-free than it is today. The fault, of course, lies in the law enforcing agencies. Everywhere we look today, laws are being seen to be flouted in many areas, including roads that have extracted a huge price in the form of a large number of human lives annually and continue to do so almost every day. The loss of life, the traffic chaos in the streets, the underhand dealings in many a government office, and so many other ills that are affecting normal life of the people are no doubt due to the inefficient enforcement of laws and rules which by themselves are really good ones and need to be properly enforced.

            The unqualified head of the CIAA was seen to be addressing some of the corruption related ills to some extent. But all of a sudden some months back, some leaders of some of the political parties as well as a section of the media began venting ire against the chief and joining them were some politically motivated youths. It was a foregone conclusion that the days of Karki as CIAA chief were numbered.

It is a pity that the media did not bother to delve into the fact that Karki’s criticism began only three years or so after he assumed the office for which the Supreme Court only this week found him to be unfit.  One of the pertinent questions that needs to be asked (and answered) is why was he allowed to continue in office for so long without a semblance of opposition? And why was there a sudden out pouring of protests against him, including the one from Dr. K.C.? Did Karki as the CIAA chief touch on some sensitive nerves of the powers that be? Could there be some connection between political leaders and various mafias such as transport, real estate, trading and manufacturing? Surely the media, if not at present, might one day delve deep and find the answers and bring them to the public. Though many think there is only a remote chance of the free private sector media doing this, let’s just hope for the best.

            The main point is that no matter who heads the CIAA the fight against corruption in all its visible and invisible forms needs to be tackled in an effective way. Corruption must be eradicated not only from this country but also from the face of the earth. Rooting out corruption even from small country like ours is a very difficult - if not an impossible - proposition. As we have become accustomed to corruption, most of us have compromised with this evil and there is no effective means to overcome this deep rooted evil.  This is why there is a need to dig into as to how a person who did not qualify to head the CIAA became its chief.

Commitment

But apart from proper investigation into this affair, there is a need to ensure that the CIAA is allowed to carry out its duties without any interference from any quarters. No matter who heads the anti-graft body, there must be commitment to ensure that the body functions without hindrance from any quarter. Corruption in its hydra-headed form manifests in many ways and the CIAA, no matter how effective, can only achieve limited success. But this also means that the efforts to root out corruption must continue at all front and by everyone. For corruption is everyone’s business.

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