Personal tools
You are here: Home News Analysis and Views Sushil-led Government-38
Log in

Forgot your password?

Sushil-led Government-38

November Issue 2014

Nepal: Empowering Or Disenfranchising CIAA

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Recently, members of parliament have been nervous about the Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA) using its authority to undo the licenses given by the government for building hydropower projects, and arresting a witness for not correctly telling the truth about what he has seen. For the parliamentarians that have been used to believe that they are above the law, and they could do whatever they like, CIAA’s actions have been unbearable. Some honorable parliamentarians also former ministers even stated that CIAA has overstepped the jurisdiction. However, they did not dare to say that they would impeach the chief of CIAA because they are the same flourishing breed of corruption. The chief of CIAA has rightly refused to appear before the parliamentary committee on agriculture and water resources. It has become a showdown.


CIAA chief needed to be bold enough to demand the right to arrest any parliamentarians, ministers, other high officials on suspicion of corruption and abuse of authority. Currently, CIAA has been able to take actions against lower level officials. CIAA needs to have the rights to fire anybody taking bribe or abusing power then and there unlike the current need for going to the Special Court for punishing any corrupt officials. CIAA needed to take immediate actions against any corrupt persons, only giving them a chance to go to the Special Court rather than the CIAA going to the Special Court in other words shifting the burden of proof on the accused. It is certainly an extreme wishful thinking only.


According to the news posted on on November 7, 2014, CIAA has directed the ministry of energy to cancel the licenses of 14 hydropower projects including Kabeli A.


The news stated, “CIAA on September 5 (2014) had directed the energy ministry to scrap the survey licenses of Bhotekoshi-5 (60 megawatts), Buku Khola (6 megawatts), Kabeli-A (37.6 MW), Lower Balefi (20 MW) and Upper Ingwakhola (9.7 MW) and Balefi-B hydropower projects and Karuwa Khola (36 megawatts).


Similarly, it had directed the ministry to scrap power generation licenses of Lower Arun (400 megawatts), Chaharekhola (17.5megawatts), Upper Mailung Khola (14.3 megawatts), Upper Solu Khola Sano (18 megawatts), Midim Khola (3.4 megawatts), Upper Khoranga Khola HPP (6.8 megawatts) and Lower Indrawati (4.5 megawatts).”


On November 7, 2014, nervous about the CIAA taking strong actions, members of the parliamentary finance committee called the chief of CIAA for questioning; CIAA chief Lokman Singh Karki gentlemanly did comply with the request. Despite the highest-ranking civil official called Secretary to the Ministry of Energy telling the committee members, “CIAA’s directions are obligatory and has formed a committee to study the status of projects”, the parliamentary finance committee declared the CIAA overstepped its jurisdiction. However, they stopped short of saying the CIAA abused its authority. Members of the committee have simply ignored the fact that the ministry has initiated the administrative actions following the CIAA’s directives.


The parliamentary finance committee also directed the cabinet secretariat, the office of the prime minister, and the ministry of energy to go on doing the business as usual ignoring the directives of the CIAA. Following the parliamentary finance committee’s instructions, they don’t need to wait for the CIAA to officially lift the directives it has given to them. It is blatant violation of the rule of law. Lawmakers are surely violating the laws they made.


So, it is not surprising, the current coalition government of NC and CPN-UML ask money not under the table but on the table. The current government has been the replica of the government in 1990s when the ministers and State officials had been synonyms of the unashamed corrupt officials stealing from the State treasury or asking money for doing anything, and seeking commissions from the companies, and taking out of the State-run companies everything possible. Obviously, the lawmakers have clearly the share in irregularly amassing wealth.


The minister for energy also has ordered the concerned project officials and the ministry staffers not to follow the directives of the CIAA in other words go on doing the business as usual of making money out of the projects. Why the ministers needed to follow the rule of law when the lawmakers had already stated to go ahead breaking laws and doing the business as usual.


The parliamentary finance committee’s directives and the order of the minister for energy wane the authority of the CIAA, and encourage the corrupt ministers and officials to continue indulging in illegal activities. In the future, voters needed to think about how they are going to vote for whether they are going for the corrupt politicians or the sincere ones. It is clear that the current lawmakers sitting on the finance committee are for fading off the CIAA and shining the corruption cases. What the voters could anticipate from the current government elected by the corruption-minded lawmakers other than the abuse of the authority.


Certainly, members of the parliamentary finance committee have crossed the boundary of its authority calling the CIAA chief for questioning and then declaring the CIAA violated its jurisdiction “directing the Ministry of Energy to annul the licenses given to the companies for developing hydropower projects”. These members of the committee are the members of the same bandwagon that makes millions of rupees at the cost of nation.


When CIAA stepped in to stop bribery and corruption at least to some extent, these political guys are nervous about it. Will the corruption die in the country where the people’s representatives instead of empowering attempt to disenfranchise the CIAA that has been set up for minimizing the widespread corruption prevailing in the country? If these guys really could find any defects in the chief of the CIAA, then they could go for impeaching the chief rather than going against the prevailing law and declaring the lawful act as illegal.


Lawmaker also former finance minister Surendra Pandey smartly said that the CIAA chief has crossed the limit of his jurisdiction. Lawmaker Pandey if he wants to be honorable as all lawmakers are addressed incorrectly, he needs to appreciate the CIAA chief and encourage further to stop the extensive abuse of authority and corruption at all the ministries including his previous ministry of finance. Unfortunately, Nepalese voters have been tricked time and again to vote for such unfaithful if not outright corrupt persons as their representatives.


Incumbent Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat skillfully used nice words stating that the CIAA’s directives have weakened the investors’ confidence. It is surely a cover for defending the illegal actions of the concerned ministries including his ministry of finance. How could Dr Mahat make such a comment so easily? Probably, investors would be encouraged to invest in Nepal if the CIAA could prevent the abuse of authority and corruption because companies could function independently following the law rather than bribing the lawmakers and ministers that acted whimsically, and that have been interested in extracting couple of millions of rupees from the contractors and investors rather than successfully completing development projects.


Large companies willing to do business in Nepal needed to give certain number of shares in the companies to the members of the royal family gratis when the king ruled the country. The king had gone. Now, the members of parliament and ministers have been taking the place of those royal family members. Consequently, the activities of the CIAA have been intolerable to the lawmakers and ministers.


CIAA chief rightly did not show up at the parliamentary committee on agriculture and water resources. CIAA chief Lokman Singh Karki unlike the members of the committee knew that the committee has no legal authority to call the CIAA chief for questioning. CIAA chief knew these committee guys wanted to weaken the anti-corruption body, and strengthen the abuse of authority and corruption. However, CIAA chief demonstrated that he was not such a weak person as the members of the committee might have thought. The lawmakers have been definitely scared of the CIAA making so much efforts on combating the corrupt officials including the elected officials.


Acting secretary to the CIAA Prem Kumar Rai dispatched a letter to the parliamentary committee on agriculture and water resources on November 14, 2014 stating that CIAA chief Karki was not for appearing before the committee; the CIAA chief was accountable only to the Parliamentary Committee on Good Governance and Monitoring, according to the news posted on and on November 16, 2014. This is certainly the fight of good against evil.


Acting Secretary Rai also in his letter quoted the clauses 110 and 115 of the Work Execution Regulation of the Constituent Assembly of 2013 (2070) for stating why the CIAA chief did not need to comply with the call of the committee for appearing before it. Only the Good Governance and Monitoring Committee has the rights to question the CIAA chief not anybody that wants to. The letter also advised the parliamentary committee on agriculture and water resources to contact the Good Governance and Monitoring Committee for more information on the activities of the CIAA.


The irate and desperate members of the committee of agriculture and water resources not knowing what to do next in desperation approached the Speaker of the parliament for taking actions against the CIAA chief for not complying with the call of the committee for questioning. It indicates that how desperate have been the members of the committee on agriculture and water resources for not being able to preserve the corrupt activities intact. These guys have been asking how the CIAA chief could ask to annul the licenses given by the ministry even knowing that the license holders have been corrupt and not doing the businesses correctly. Thus, openly and boldly the members of the committee on agriculture and water resources have been advocating for the abuse of authority and corruption. These guys are shameless lawmakers, and morally they have no rights to be on such a committee any more.


The sovereignty and state powers are vested to the Nepali people by the clauses 127 and 160 of Legislature Parliament Regulations and the Article 2 of the Interim Constitution of Nepal, the lawmakers claimed in writing to the Speaker of the parliament, according to the news posted on on November 16, 2014. So, the elected body such as the committee on agriculture and water resources could use the people’s mandate for weakening the CIAA. What a claim these guys have made as if the voters have mandated them to abuse the power and make money for themselves and their dear spouses and so on. These lawmakers have crossed the red line of abusing the power for defending the corrupt actions of their own and their colleagues at the ministries. They also said that the Article 77 of the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 gave the special power to the Constituent Assembly. Certainly, the Constituent Assembly has the power to make laws but not to abuse the laws it made.


Speaker Subhas Nemwang said he had not received any letter from the committee on agriculture and water resources but he believed that anybody summoned by any parliamentary committee needed to comply with it, and needed to appear before the committee for answering, according to the news on Thus, honorable Speaker Nemwang also rides the bandwagon of the corrupt lawmakers. Mr. Speaker did not present himself differently from the corrupt minded lawmakers.


Lawmakers instead of making laws for combating the widespread corruption wanted to clip the wings of the CIAA chief for letting prevail the unchecked corruption.


Currently CIAA has no authority to fire anybody on the spot for taking bribe. It has to meticulously collect information on the misuse of power, on the officials taking bribes from the customers, and then file corruption cases against the evildoers at the Special Court. CIAA has hard time to perform its duty because the lawmakers instead of assisting the CIAA in curbing the misuse of power and bribery want to limit its activities. The lawmakers have been using the people’s mandate for enriching themselves and their family and friends keeping the CIAA at arm’s length.


On November 10, 2014, CIAA arrested Dinesh Aryal: the witness in a bribery case involving Deputy Registrar Lal Babu Kawari and Chartered Accountant Bhanu Kadel of the Kathmandu-based Company Registrar Office, who allegedly demanded kickback from managing director of the Chitwan Medical College Harish Neupane, according to the news on posted on November 11, 2014. In a statement issued in Kathmandu on November 10, 2014, the CIAA stated that Aryal was the witness in a bribery involving Deputy Registrar Lal Babu Kawari and Chartered Accountant Bhanu Kadel of the Kathmandu-based Company Registrar Office but Aryal has been uncooperative at the hearing on the case at the Special Court.


Lawmakers have seen such activities of the CIAA threatening to them, too, and they felt uncomfortable with the CIAA activities. Lawmakers must have thought that if the CIAA went on unchecked one day the CIAA might arrest them, too. So, the lawmakers must have been so concerned with the activities of the CIAA. They are determined to curb any further anti-corruption activities of the CIAA.


Nepalese parliament has been the market place for selling and buying the parliamentary slots. Each political party gets a number of parliamentary slots depending on the number of votes it has received following the elections to the proportional representations. The party leadership selects the candidates and appoints them. Each party has appointed the persons that have bid highest amounts for the parliamentary seats. Lawmakers have to recover the money they have paid for the slots in the parliament. Naturally, they want to make money at any cost. They don’t care about the laws or prestige or reputation. They need money for buying slots next time.


Almost the same selling and buying process takes place in the cabinet formation, too. Prime minister appoints the highest bidders for the cabinet positions. The prevailing rate for a cabinet position at the time of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala was Rs 20 million at a minimum. Even paying such a high price for cabinet positions, ministers risked being the uncertain term of office. Rivals within the parties attempted to tear down the government in office often successfully, and set up a new one. So, ministers had been always for making money as much as possible while in office. The result had been the rampant corruption in the administration.


Everybody including the CIAA chief knows this buying and selling of the cabinet positions and parliamentary slots but either nobody could do anything against such political and financial corruption or did dare to do so. CIAA could not do anything because it needed evidences. CIAA could not arrest lawmakers or cabinet ministers on the charges of paying for their positions, and extract their confessions. The irony is that even the incumbent CIAA chief himself had paid a large sum of money to the four major political parties for getting the position of the CIAA chief. The network of the corruption has been so well set up in Nepal we need another people’s movement to break it up and clean it up.


November 18, 2014

Document Actions