Anti-graft agency official stares at impeachment over corruptionA commissioner at the country’s apex corruption watchdog is staring at an impeachment motion against him after media exposed that he had taken Rs7.8 million in bribe promising “to settle a case”.
A commissioner at the country’s apex corruption watchdog is staring at an impeachment motion against him after media exposed that he had taken Rs7.8 million in bribe promising “to settle a case”.
Kantipur daily, the sister publication of The Kathmandu Post, broke the story that Raj Narayan Pathak, a commissioner at the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), was caught on camera receiving the bribe.
The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) said on Thursday that it was preparing to register an impeachment motion against Pathak.
NCP leaders and lawmakers urged Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli that since the government was for zero tolerance on corruption, Pathak should be impeached, according to a ruling party leader who did not want to be named because he was not authorised to speak with the media on the matter.
Law Minister Bhanubhakta Dhakal confirmed that NCP lawmakers would begin the process to initiate an impeachment motion against Pathak.
Following media reports about corruption in the commission, party leaders held consultations with Oli at Baluwatar, where, according to sources, the prime minister instructed the lawmakers to follow the process to impeach Pathak.
Since the CIAA is a constitutional body, removal of any commissioner is possible only through an impeachment motion if she or he does not resign of his or her own volition.
Asked whether the move was a pressure tactic to force Pathak to resign, the leader told the Post that an impeachment motion was also necessary to set the precedent that corrupt officials have no place in office. “We are clear on our position… that action against the corrupt commissioner will move ahead on Friday,” the leader said.
He said that lawmakers would start collecting signatures on Friday to move the impeachment process forward.
Article 101 (2) of the constitution states that one fourth of the total number of existing members of the House of Representatives may move a motion of impeachment against the chief or official of a constitutional body on the ground of his or her failure to fulfil his or her duties of office because of serious violation of the constitution and laws, incompetence or misconduct or failure to discharge the duties of office honestly or serious violation of the code of conduct.
As per the constitutional provision, at least 69 lawmakers are required to move the impeachment motion in the 275-member House.
The NCP has 174 lawmakers in Parliament and it is supported by the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal which has 16.
If the motion is passed by at least a two-thirds majority of the House of Representatives members, the concerned person shall be relieved of his or her office.
At least 184 lawmakers need to vote in favour of the impeachment motion to pass it. “We will also hold discussions with leaders of other parties, including our coalition partner Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal,” the ruling party leader said.
One of the commissioners at the anti-corruption agency told the Post that the corruption watchdog had long been conducting “sting operations” to crack down on corrupt officials but this time its own official had been caught.
“All the commissioners were shocked to hear that a colleague was involved in corruption,” the commissioner told the Post seeking anonymity. “We have not discussed the issue yet as the Constitutional Council is there to look into cases related to commissioners.”
When asked to comment on Pathak, the commissioner said he was very much in office on Thursday.
The case that has embroiled Pathak in controversy is related to Nepal Engineering College and was filed at the anti-corruption body last year.
Pathak, reports say, had taken money from different parties on different occasions promising that he would settle the case.