Disgraced anti-graft commissioner Pathak faces corruption caseThe Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority on Tuesday filed a corruption case at the Special Court against Raj Narayan Pathak, one of its former commissioners, on the charge of accepting Rs7.8 million bribe “to settle” the ownership dispute at a Bhaktapur-based college.
Prithvi Man Shrestha
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority on Tuesday filed a corruption case at the Special Court against Raj Narayan Pathak, one of its former commissioners, on the charge of accepting Rs7.8 million bribe “to settle” the ownership dispute at a Bhaktapur-based college.
The case is rare as a commissioner of the anti-graft body himself has been embroiled in the corruption case.
After Pathak was found to have received the bribe to settle the dispute over ownership of the Changunarayan-based Nepal Engineering College in several audio and video records, Pathak resigned from his post on February 15. A complaint was registered at the CIAA against an attempt to capture the property of the college by the group led by Lambodar Kumar Neupane, one of the board directors of the college.
The CIAA itself conducted an investigation in the case after Pathak’s resignation. The CIAA said that Pathak had accepted the graft from Neupane through Gyanendra Kumar Jha. The anti-graft body has also made Neupane a defendant in the case.
As per the charge sheet, the CIAA has sought a maximum prison term of 11 years for Pathak, confiscation of the graft amount and a fine of a sum equivalent to the graft as per the Corruption Prevention Act.
If the amount related to corruption is Rs5-10 million, the offender is subjected to a jail term of six to eight years. According to the law, if the offender is the office bearer at a constitutional organ or one who has held special class status in government service, additional prison term of three years is provisioned.
In the case of Neupane, the CIAA has sought a punishment of eight-year jail, confiscation of graft amount and a fine equivalent to the graft amount as per the anti-corruption law.
Although the CIAA interrogated several individuals involved in the case, it only decided to file cases against the duo. It was suggested that Subha Narayan Pathak, younger brother of ex-commissioner Yadav, had also received Rs1.5 million in graft. As it was not related to Nepal Engineering College, the CIAA has decided to conduct a separate investigation into it.
Younger Pathak is the dean of Science at Purbanchal University.
During interrogation by the CIAA, ex-commissioner Pathak denied taking graft from Neupane. Pathak had claimed that Dwojman Moktan, who produced the videos depicting him, had been bargaining with him for long and had filmed their conversations secretly.
Arguing that anybody could be embroiled in videos taken out of the context, Pathak said modern technology had been misused. “It is completely false that I received a graft of Rs7.8 million in the case where Dhwojman had sought to settle the case at first,” Pathak had told the CIAA.
He however confessed to have told Dwojman that he would earn Rs500 million after becoming the chief commissioner of CIAA. As per a video, he had discouraged Neupane’s group not to try to recover the amount saying that he would settle the issue as he was sure to become the chief commissioner.
In the past, Pathak was also embroiled in a controversy over intervention in the entrance exam at Kathmandu University and affiliation to various medical colleges when the CIAA was led by Lokman Singh Karki, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court to head the anti-graft body.
The anti-graft body has not filed a case against Jha as he has agreed to become the witness for the government in the case. Before the videos were leaked, Pathak had made several efforts to destroy the clips with the help of senior government officials and police officers, according to those who filmed him.
The issue began after a team led by Neupane sought to privatise the college. But a complaint was registered at the CIAA against the move. As Pathak failed to settle the ongoing investigation by the CIAA in the case even after receiving the graft, Neupane sought return of the paid amount.