KATHMANDU: With the verdict that convicted former Minister and influential Nepali Congress Leader Khum Bahadur Khadka for corruption, the anti-graft movement launched by Surya Nath Upadhaya ended almost after reaching a new height. It is a matter of pride that Khadka, a powerful person and corrupt politician of his time, was convicted even though the process took 10 years to conclude the case filed against him by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) in 2002.
The Special Court spent five years deciding the case and acquitted Khadka in 2007, while the Supreme Court also took an equal period to review the Special Court verdict. Both courts spent 10 times more days to dispose the cases. As per Section 16, the Special Court needs to dispose corruption cases within six months and the Supreme Court needs to decide the appeal within three months.
The cases against Khadka, Chiranjivi Wagle and JP Gupta which began during Upadhayay’s leadership were concluded and a case against Govinda Raj Joshi still awaits the final verdict of the Supreme Court.
Following Upadhayay’s retirement from the post of Chief Commissioner of the CIAA in 2007, the nation’s anti-graft movement became headless. Two years later, Lalit Bahadur Limbu headed CIAA as acting chief, after that the anti-graft body has been running without its head and commissioners. In the absence of leadership, the CIAA could not launch a systematic campaign against corruption even though some major corruption cases were filed.
As all major political parties have been claiming the post of the CIAA chief commissioner, it has remained vacant since many years, which will ultimately create a vacuum in the anti-graft movement. Dividing the post for political parties indicates a dangerous trend — either to end the anti-graft movement or to use the body as a tool to suppress the opposition parties.
The anti-graft movement is currently hindered by the delay in the process of investigation and providing justice. The coming days do not offer enthusiasm for the common people because of lack of good governance.
“Due to the petty interest of political parties to control the CIAA, the movement has been completely stalled,” Senior Advocate and Secretary General of the Transparency International Nepal, Shree Hari Aryal, told THT Perspectives. “Some pressure groups are still demanding the issue be taken seriously but the political parties are just focused on their own agendas,” Aryal added.