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Historical verdict

Monday, January 9th, 2017
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newspaperEditorial in Kantipur, 9 January

The Supreme Court (SC)’s ruling on Sunday that Lokman Singh Karki was not qualified to be appointed as head of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is courageous and historic. It has restored people’s faith in the judiciary. It is also a reminder that the Constitutional Council and the Office of President, which recommended and appointed Karki as the CIAA Chief respectively, should not have disregarded the spirit of the constitution.

Karki was found guilty of suppressing the 2006 Democracy movement. His career as a bureaucrat was marred by scandals, most notoriously in a case involving gold smuggling. He was previously investigated by the CIAA itself in a corruption case. Why the four major parties – the Maoists, the NC, the UML and the Madhesi Front – unanimously recommended such a tainted person as the head of the anti-corruption watchdog remains a mystery. By appointing him to the CIAA in 2013, the political parties and the caretaker government headed by Chief Justice Khila Raj Regmi and the President had not only insulted a constitutional body, but also the Constitution. Better late than never, the unpardonable blunder and unconstitutional move has been corrected by the SC verdict.

Now, the leaders of the four political forces and Regmi must apologise to the public, and express commitment that they will not repeat this mistake if they want to respect the Supreme Court verdict and regain the people’s trust.

The CIAA is only mandated to investigate corruption and the abuse of authority by public office holders. But Karki overstepped his constitutional bounds, and arm-twisted other government offices to make illegal decisions for his personal gain. So his exit from the CIAA is not enough, he needs to be investigated and punished for the abuse of power. He eroded the people’s faith in the CIAA, and to regain public trust the CIAA needs to thoroughly investigate his abuse of authority and file a case against him at the Special Court.

Karki is also facing an impeachment motion in Parliament and if found guilty can be declared unfit for public service in future. But the Legislature has lagged behind the Judiciary in this case. Nevertheless, the Legislature can still do its part by ordering an investigation into Karki’s wrong-doings.

Truth triumphs
Editorial in Nagarik, 9 January

The Supreme Court ruling that nullified Lokman Singh Karki’s appointment as the CIAA Chief has reinforced our belief that the truth eventually prevails. The SC verdict has not only questioned the Constitutional Council’s decision to appoint Karki as CIAA Chief in 2013, but also reversed its own decision to quash advocate Om Aryal’s writ which argued that Karki lacked requisite experience and moral character for this job.

After being appointed CIAA Chief, Karki ran a parallel government, and doggedly persecuted those who questioned his credentials to lead a constitutional body. Actual investigation of abuse of authority was not his priority. He went after ‘small fish’, hobnobbed with the ‘big fish’. It was an open secret that he was paid off by those involved in major corruption and investigated those suspected to be involved in petty irregularities. He constantly undermined elected institutions and representations, amassing wealth and resources potentially to emerge as a future ruler of the country. His shenanigans tarnished the image of the CIAA itself.

Karki is now gone, but the mistake that political parties made to appoint him should not be repeated. The ruling by justices Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada, Ananda Mohan Bhattarai and Anil Kumar Sinha has not directly questioned the political parties’ decision to appoint Karki. But the leadership should feel morally responsible for this fiasco, and vow to resist external pressure or temptation of money in future. If they refuse to correct their mistakes, people must vote them out in future elections.

 

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