Apex court dangles the sword of Damocles over CIAA chief Karki

  • To review his appointment
  • Censures govt for ‘losing’ documents
- DEWAN RAI, Kathmandu

Sep 17, 2016-The Supreme Court (SC) has reopened the case of appointment of Lokman Singh Karki as the chief commissioner of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, in a move that could lead to some dramatic events in coming days.

A full bench of Chief Justice Sushila Karki and Justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Bishwambhar Prasad Shrestha on Friday granted permission for reviewing the SC’s earlier verdict considering two major premises regarding Karki’s appointment: his tenure in government service and constitutional provision about his moral character to head the constitutional body.

Karki was appointed under-secretary at then palace secretariat in 1984 through royal edict. 

After the reinstatement of democracy in 1990, Karki joined civil service. If Karki’s earlier six-year of service is excluded, his tenure as a civil servant does not meet the required qualification to hold the position. There is a constitutional provision that one should have at least 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, revenue, engineering, law, development or research and s/he should be a distinguished person to qualify for the post. 

The Rayamajhi Commission, formed immediately after the 2006 movement to investigate oppressive measures taken by then royal regime against pro-democratic protesters, had also disqualified Karki from holding any public position, citing his role as chief secretary in suppressing the democracy movement.

The Girija Prasad Koirala-led government, formed after the success of the 2006 

movement, had also decided to sack him from the position of chief secretary and disqualify him from holding any public position in future “for using state apparatus against the pro-democratic protesters”.

Karki had also faced accusations that he was involved in various scandals, including a gold smuggling case, when he was working as director general at Tribhuvan International Airport. 

In May 2013, a technocratic government led by then chief justice Khil Raj Regmi had appointed him as the CIAA chief. As Parliament had been dissolved at that time, his appointment did not go through parliamentary vetting. 

Advocate Om Prakash Aryal had moved the court, claiming that his appointment was unconstitutional. A division bench of Justices Gopal Parajuli and Om Prakash Mishra on September 24, 2014, however, had quashed the petition. 

Aryal on November 24 last year again registered an appeal at the SC, seeking a review. In response to the petition, a bench of Justices Dipak Kumar Karki, Biswambhar Shrestha and Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada on August 26 had asked the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of General Administration to present documents, including the Cabinet minute, related to Karki’s appointment. 

In response, the government last week told the apex court that papers related to Karki’s appointment “were misplaced while they were shifting documents 

from the earthquake-ravaged building”.

 

The apex court has also warned of action if the government fails to furnish the documents within seven days. 

“We are hopeful that this will correct the legal error made during the earlier verdict,” said Aryal, who believes the verdict was taken without studying the documents made available. 

“He was intimidating everyone to influence the court proceedings. I hope this will help reinstate fair judicial environment,” said Aryal. 

Published: 17-09-2016 09:40

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