Corruption charge against ex-Dolakha CDO brings the spotlight back on anti-graft bodyCommission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority recommends suspension of its former employee, Khagendra Prasad Rijal, for alleged bribe-taking.
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority on Tuesday instructed the Home Ministry to suspend one of its under-secretaries for alleged corruption. The official had previously served at the anti-graft body.
The commission recommended suspension of Khagendra Prasad Rijal, who until recently served as the chief district officer of Dolakha, where he got embroiled in a corruption scandal. After the incident, the ministry had recalled and put him in the reserve pool, without any specific responsibility.
The anti-graft body in a statement said Rijal’s continuation in government service could hamper their ongoing investigation and that he could engage in destroying evidence against him.
Rijal, reportedly, had taken bribes from men accused of public offence.
Rijal had allegedly received Rs200,000 each from Ram Naresh Yadav, a senior health assistant at Lamabagar Health Post, who is also serving as a ward secretary at Bigu Rural Municipality-1, and Raju Shrestha, office secretary at the same ward, in two instalments by threatening to lock them up for their disturbing behaviour against a local woman.
Both Yadav and Shrestha said they were not aware of the complaints against them, but added that they were afraid of the chief district officer because of his power in the district.
Despite receiving the bail amount, Rijal is accused of not giving receipts for the money he received. So the two accused complained to the Home Ministry and came out openly on the issue. Many other people also came out to complain about similar tactics adopted by Rijal to extract money from them. As the scandal broke out, the ministry recalled him last week.
Home Ministry Spokesperson Kedarnath Sharma said that he knew about the commission’s instruction but he had not seen its letter. “The ministry has not taken the decision yet to suspend him, but whenever a decision is taken, it would be effective from Tuesday,” Sharma told the Post.
Rijal served at the anti-graft body for around three years until 2017. He looked into investigations of fake academic certificates and was also the information officer. His track record at the anti-graft body is also reportedly not clean.
“He was forced out of the commission after complaints that he had been taking bribes from fake certificate holders and giving them a clean chit,” a senior official at the anti-graft body told the Post on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Rijal’s alleged involvement in irregularities comes to the fore at a time when the commission itself is struggling to improve its image and maintain its credibility following allegations against a number of officials being embroiled in corruption scandals.
Since Lokman Singh Karki, whose appointment as chief commissioner of the anti-graft body was disqualified by the Supreme Court, two former CIAA commissioners are facing corruption allegations.
In March, the commission filed a corruption case against its former commissioner, Raj Narayan Pathak, on charges of taking Rs7.8 million in bribe to settle the ownership dispute related to a Bhaktapur-based college.
Exposed audios and visuals showed him accepting the graft from a group led by Lambodar Kumar Neupane, one of the directors of the Changunarayan-based Nepal Engineering College.
Pathak resigned from his post after the scandal.
Former CIAA chief Deep Basnyat is also under the commission’s scanner for his alleged role in transferring land at Lalita Niwas in Baluwatar to fake tenants and for an alleged acquisition of property, illegally, during the course of his government service.
“Allegation against Rijal is another black spot on the image of the commission,” said the anti-graft body official.