Time for atonementNC should join UML and CPN (MC) in impeachment motion against Karki
The impeachment motion registered by 157 parliamentarians from the CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre) on Wednesday evening against the head of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, Lok Man Singh Karki, though long overdue, came as a surprise.
Despite ample evidence of Karki’s penchant for abusing the power of the anti-corruption agency for personal gains and use of scare tactics to silence his opponents by forcing the state mechanism to engage in witch-hunts, even top political leaders had kept an eerie silence on the matter for far too long. A motion registered in Parliament in July by a few intrepid MPs to discuss Karki’s conduct never saw the light of the day, as the party leadership and Speaker Onasari Gharti Magar deliberately kept the motion away from Parliament’s schedule. And after the lead proponent of the motion, Nepali Congress’s Gagan Thapa, became a minister, the motion was effectively rendered void.
The fresh impeachment motion comes at a time when the public opinion against Karki is turning, in large part due to the campaign led by Dr Govind KC, and with the Supreme Court taking a strong position against Karki’s callous stonewalling of the court procedure. A case on whether Karki had the qualifications prescribed by the law to be appointed the CIAA chief is sub judice in the Supreme Court. If the verdict goes against him, his appointment will be terminated.
In fact, Karki had been staying away from the country after it became clear that the Court would deliberate on his fate sooner rather than later. He was trying to exploit the loopholes in the court’s notice-serving procedure. By all accounts, he has tried to co-opt even law enforcement officials, among others, to support his bid. A Sub-Inspector of Police in civvies, a sitting senior government official and employees of a leading private sector company were reportedly mobilised to prevent court officials from serving the court’s notice at Karki’s house.
This episode brought into full public view what Nepali people had always suspected: Karki, who heads a corruption watchdog agency, can go far to circumvent the law of the land for serving his self-interest.
That said, Karki should never have been appointed to the high office that is expected to uphold public integrity in the first place—given his background and his proclivity for power play, which have been well documented. But our top party leaders refused to pay heed to public opinion and take cue from Karki’s past.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Baburam Bhattarai, KP Sharma Oli and late the Sushil Koirala have to take some responsibility for installing Karki at the helm of the CIAA. They pushed his appointment through the Constitution Council during the caretaker government led by former Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi—in the hope that their hand-picked appointee would spare them from any prosecution on corruption charges. They share equal blame in the subversion of CIAA’s office, and subsequent erosion of the institution’s credibility. It is very clear that certain power centres had also pushed hard for Karki’s appointment.
But even as 157 MPs have finally come together, the NC, the largest party in Parliament, is dragging its feet over the issue. There is a school of thought in the party to let the Supreme Court decide the fate of the CIAA boss, instead of getting entangled in an affair led by “a communist alliance”, in reference to the motion supported by the UML and the CPN (MC). That would be unfortunate.
Even if a humiliated Karki decides to step down himself or face the court, the political parties, not least the NC, should take the moral high ground and support the impeachment motion to help garner the two-thirds majority required to uphold the vote.