Proper investigation neededPresent anti-corruption drive has to continue no matter what the outcome of the impeachment process is
The Nepali media that were until recently awash with the issue of the impeachment of the CIAA chief have been inexplicably silent on it in the past couple of days. The reason is clear. The VVIP visit from south of the border has apparently drowned out the chorus of voices on the impeachment process, as the visit has much more importance to this country, which can partly be judged from the priority given to it by the media. Come to think of it, how many of us are aware of the importance that the Indian media have attached to their President’s visit to this country? Is the Indian media’s priority anywhere near Nepali media’s? But then our priorities and those of India are quite different; hence the difference in treatment of the visit by the two countries’ media. The media attention on the visit in Nepal has put the CIAA chief’s impeachment issue on the back burner, but it is bound to resurface immediately after the visit.
The concerned authorities, it is stated, have set up a panel to investigate the actions—and the misdeeds—of the CIAA chief, which will come in handy when bringing the impeachment motion to the fore in the legislature. Whatever be the findings of such a team, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the CIAA Chief will be impeached because the political parties desire so, and whether anything is right or wrong, a two-thirds majority will have the final say. But whether the CIAA Chief is impeached or not, it is only fitting that there be an overall review of the manner in which he was appointed in the first place and how the political parties consented to the appointment even through there was a legislature void during that period.
Vast ocean of corruption
But once a person—no matter how unqualified or thought to be unfit for office—is appointed to a constitutional body, they must be allowed to perform their constitutional and legal duties without outside interference. If this does not happen, the constitutional bodies including judicial ones become nothing more than puppets of those parties with political power. The political parties, it might be well to remember, have cried themselves hoarse when alleged gangsters were gunned down in police encounters. No constitutional body has so far dared investigate such affairs and clean up the structures of our political parties. If this kind of investigation is undertaken, it will be for the good of the political behaviour of our leaders and workers.
The CIAA chief who now faces impeachment was seen to be doing something no matter how insignificant in the ocean of corruption. The general perception—which might be wrong—is that any attempt at rooting out corruption is nipped in the bud. The CIAA chief might have overstepped his limits set up by the constitution as alleged in the impeachment motion and therefore needs to be impeached. But the only way to avoid the waste of public money by dragging out the impeachment process is for him to step down. But there is a need to properly investigate the cases which the CIAA is currently probing. It would be a grave mistake and long-term disaster to close these cases once the present CIAA chief is impeached.
There has been a lot of criticism of the present CIAA chief, especially by some NGOs, INGOs and those who indulge in unscrupulous politics. These institutions and the persons behind them must be properly investigated. It is interesting that even Transparency International Nepal has taken a dramatically judgmental attitude in its press statement on the CIAA chief. There are other NGOs with a similar attitude and it would be interesting to know why. It seems more than likely that the CIAA chief will be ousted. But no matter what the outcome of the ongoing saga is, the present anti-corruption drive will have to continue, although it will only be a tiny drop in the vast ocean of corruption.
The first step
It is well known that Nepal has the dubious distinction of being one of the world’s most corrupt countries. We all have to pay the price of such levels of corruption. This includes buying daily necessities (for the poor) or buying luxury vehicles (for the rich). All prices include a portion, no matter how small, that is set aside for corruption. Rooting out corruption in a country like ours is not something that can be accomplished by any single organisation such as the CIAA. It needs joint action from all the sections of society in order to assist those institutions that are genuinely fighting corruption. The CIAA has to carry on its work whether or not the present chief is impeached.
And whatever the outcome, the present chief should quit in order to keep the CIAA free from any kind of controversies. But the work that has been done so far must be continued and the new chief or the acting chief must ensure that the people continue to have faith in the institution. It is also imperative that the thousands of NGOs and INGOs that are working in the country legally and illegally should be properly investigated by impartial bodies. The nexus between the political parties, criminal elements and business and industrial powers should also be examined. This would be the first step towards real attempts at rooting out corruption at all levels of the country.