Messy policing

  • Bodies vital to national security should remain free of government interference

Feb 15, 2017-In a last-minute decision taken just the day before Inspector General Upendra Kant Aryal’s tenure came to an end, the government on Monday evening appointed Additional Inspector General Dinesh Chandra Pokhrel as the officiating chief of Nepal Police. It has been a messy affair already. 

The government’s decision on Sunday to appoint Deputy Inspector General Jaya Bahadur Chand as the IGP was stayed by the Supreme Court the same day. The court was responding to a writ that claimed the government breached the criteria—competence and seniority, among others—for appointing the law enforcement agency’s chief. The apex court issued a second stay order the following day asking the government not to execute its decision to appoint Chand. 

Amid looming threat of a leadership vacuum, the Cabinet had to amend the Nepal Police Regulations on Monday to pave the way for the appointment of Pokhrel, who as a medical doctor comes from a ‘technical background’ and is unlikely to remain in office for long. 

Top leaders of major political parties are involved in a political tug of war over the choice of the IGP. There are nasty inter- and intra-party battles going on. This is but one glaring example of the growing politicisation of our state institutions. The National Reconstruction Authority is another recent victim of such politicisation. 

What is particularly worrisome is the infiltration of politics even in our security agencies. Nepal Police, a 72,719-strong force, is a highly sensitive state body responsible for maintaining the country’s law and order. The lack of clarity and the resultant delay in appointing the head of such a critical agency do not bode well for the health of the country’s security apparatus, as warned by the outgoing police chief Aryal. 

In a democracy, the elected government has the ultimate authority over state matters. But in a fledgling democracy like ours, where governments change frequently, some areas vital to national interest should remain free of government 

interference and control. In security agencies in particular, there should be well-defined criteria and process to determine promotion and appointment. Political meddling and brinkmanship of the kind seen in this case can sap the police’s morale and jeopardise its ability to do its job well. 

Now that the case is sub judice, political leaders should refrain from flexing their political muscle to have their choice appointed as the head of the police force. Our leaders would do well to remind themselves that public trust is an essential ingredient of the government’s legitimacy to rule, and that undue political interference in vital state organs will erode such trust and legitimacy. 

Published: 15-02-2017 08:35

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