House panel asks CIAA to focus on big culprits

- BHADRA SHARMA, Kathmandu
House panel asks CIAA to focus on big culprits

Sep 17, 2014-

A parliamentary committee on Wednesday instructed Lokman Singh Karki, chief of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, to prioritise high-profile corruption cases.

The move from the Good Governance and Monitoring Committee to Karki follows complaints that the CIAA overlooked high-profile corruption deals and probed only the cases involving junior officials for “cheap publicity”.

The House panel instructed the CIAA to adopt measures to combat policy-level corruption. Lawmakers drew CIAA’s attention for not investigating big corruption cases. They were concerned about CIAA raids of universities.

“Why are you targeting junior officials and university officials instead of dealing with larger scams?” NC lawmaker Arjun Narsingh KC questioned Karki, who defended his agency’s action saying that his team had booked high-profile officials like university vice-chancellor and director general under the Health Ministry.

He said it had been difficult for the CIAA to curb policy-level corruption due to the Cabinet tendency to endorse “trivial issues” instead of the ministries deciding them, and the delay in domesticating laws in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The law bars the CIAA from overruling a Cabinet decision while corruption prone areas—Army, judiciary, I/NGOs and private sector—have not been brought under the CIAA’s jurisdiction.

Appointed the CIAA chief in July last year, Karki has taken action mostly against junior bureaucrats but has not initiated a campaign against high-profile cases involving then Maoist cantonments, helipad/airport scam and misappropriation complaints filed against former ministers and influential politicians.

The CIAA receives more than 20,000 corruption-related complaints annually. The CIAA often conducts sting operations to frame officials, and lawmakers fear some innocent officials are dragged into graft cases that way.

Complaints received by the CIAA claim that the Maoist leadership misused at least Rs 4 billion allocated to cantoned former Maoist rebels. The parliamentary panel has decided to monitor its central and regional offices. The panel asked the government to promulgate laws so as to empower the CIAA.

Journos barred from session

Kathmandu: In an unusual move, journalists were barred during Karki’s briefing to the House committee on Wednesday. Marshals deployed around the meeting hall had initially tried to allow TV journalists to record video footages but they refused to shoot video unless the print media colleagues were permitted in too. Media persons who had entered the hall immediately after lawmakers started quizzing Karki were sent out. Soon after, Karki, who had reached there at 8:30 am, requested the committee chairman to ask short and specific questions citing his scheduled religious function at home. He left in the middle of the meeting around 9:30 am while other CIAA officials stayed back to answer queries. (PR)

Published: 18-09-2014 09:14

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