Parliamentary Secretariat refuses to entertain lawmaker Rauniyar’s application seeking explanation for his suspensionRauniyar, the owner of notorious Pappu Construction, claims he has the constitutional right to know because the matter concerning him and his company is a matter of public concern.
The Parliamentary Secretariat has refused to register an application by suspended lawmaker Hari Narayan Rauniyar seeking update on his earlier application demanding explanation behind his suspension.
Rauniyar was suspended as a lawmaker after the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority on October 5, 2018 filed a corruption case against his construction firm for substandard work in a bridge project.
Following his dismissal, Rauniyar had registered an application at the Parliamentary Secretariat on December 1, 2018, seeking explanation why he was suspended. He had argued that his suspension was against the regulation of the House of Representatives.
On Tuesday, Rauniyar had tried to register a right to information application, seeking an update on the state of his previous application.
The Parliament Secretariat, however, refused to entertain Rauniyar’s application, arguing that the case concerning him and his company, Pappu Construction, is still under investigation.
The secretariat cannot accept his application until the corruption case reaches its conclusion, Dashrath Dhamala, information officer of the federal Parliament, told the Post.
“As long as Rauniyar is not cleared of the corruption charge, neither Parliament nor the Parliamentary Secretariat can do anything about his application,” said Dhamala.
The snub has not gone down well with Rauniyar.
“Every citizen has the right to information as per the constitution, but the General Secretary of Parliament Secretariat, Bharat Raj Gautam, violated my constitutional right by refusing to register my application,” said Rauniyar.
He said his case was an issue of public concern because he was a lawmaker elected by the people in his constituency.
Rauniyar also claimed that under the Rule 244 (3) of the House of Representatives Regulation, he should be allowed to continue as a lawmaker.
Ther rule states that a lawmaker’s pay, perks and privileges will be suspended when s/he is in custody on criminal charges. A lawmaker remains suspended until the period of imprisonment once convicted by the court.
“I am neither in custody nor in prison, I should not have been suspended,” Rauniyar told the Post.
But Dhamala, the information officer of the federal parliament, disagrees with Rauniyar’s contention.
He said Rauniyar lost his seat in the House of Representatives under a separate anti-corruption law that automatically disqualifies an individual holding public post for corruption charge.
On October 5, 2018, the anti-graft body had filed a corruption case at the Special Court against Rauniyar and his son Sumit for building a substandard bridge over the Babai river in Jabbighat, Bardiya.
The bridge built by the Pappu Construction had collapsed in 2017 before it could be formally handed over to the Department of Roads.
It was the first time a serious action was taken against Pappu Construction, which had earlier avoided government action despite dismal performance on the projects handled by the company.
Even as a majority of the projects under Pappu Construction were running behind schedule, the company had managed to evade inquiries and penalties due to Ruaniyar’s political clout and connections.
The corruption case against Rauniyar emerged as a key turning point not only for his political career but also for the fate of his own company.
Rauniyar continues to remain suspended from the post of lawmaker while his firm has been blacklisted by the Public Procurement Monitoring Office, five times in the last one and half years, for underperformance in five construction projects.
A blacklisted firm cannot take part in any government bids for maximum three years as per the Public Procurement Act. Even before Pappu Construction was formally blacklisted, the company was denied the contract of over Rs 2billion to construct the building of Nepal Rastra Bank in Baluwatar, Kathmandu.
In March last year, the Public Procurement Monitoring Office had blacklisted Coastal Pappu JV, a joint venture firm, which was awarded the contract to construct the main and link canals and rehabilitation of headworks of the Dunduwa Irrigation System, under the Sikta Irrigation Project.
The joint contract was annulled citing poor progress in the implementation of the project. The JV was also barred from participating in government bids for the next three years.
The procurement monitoring office also blacklisited Raman Pappu JV last year for one year for failing to deliver the promised works on a postal highway project.
Raman is currently involved in the restoration project of Dharahara in Kathmandu.
Pappu was also blacklisted for three years in February this year for failing to build a bridge over the Bagmati river in Tinkune, Kathmandu.
According to the Postal Highway Directorate, Pappu/Bamti JV was blacklisted for one year in July and Pappu/Nepal Pragati was blacklisted for three years that same month as per the request of Mid-Hill Highway Project Directorate.
The Public Procurement Monitoring Office is still in the process of deciding whether to blacklist Runiyar’s company as per the request made by two government entities.
“We have received requests from the two road offices to blacklist Pappu for poor construction of a bridge over the Bishnumati river and the other bridge project on Mid-Hill highway,” an official at the procurement monitoring office said. “We are in the process of taking a decision regarding these requests.”