Impeachment fears go beyond court, CIAA

  • Chief election commissioner raises alarm with civil society leaders
- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

May 8, 2017-The impeachment motions filed in Parliament against then chief of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority Lokman Singh Karki and Chief Justice Sushila Karki have sent shock waves to constitutional position holders, it seems.

The Election Commission is also learnt to have been alarmed by these impeachment moves made in the last six months. In a meeting with civil society members on April 27, Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav spoke of constitutional body members’ vulnerability to impeachment if they resisted the government.

A team of civil society members including former chief election commissioners Nil Kantha Upreti, Surya Prasad Shrestha, constitutional experts Nilamber Acharya and Bipin Adhikari, local development experts Shyam Bhurtel, Hikmat Bista, Mukti Rijal and Krishna Prasad Sapkota had raised concerns over violations of the election code and the long gap between the first and second rounds of elections.

One of them told the Post that CEC Yadav had pointed to the constitutional provision that officials of the constitutional bodies could be relieved of their duty at the will of just three lawmakers. “If we don’t listen to the government, three lawmakers could hurt us,” a member of the team quoted Yadav as telling them.

Article 101 (5) of the constitution states: motion of  impeachment  can  be  tabled  at  the House  of  Representatives  by  the  committee  under  Clause  (2)  on  the charges  of  serious  violation  of  constitution,  other  grounds  of  his  or  her incompetence, misbehaviour or failure to discharge the duties of his or her office  in  good  faith  or  his  or  her inability  to  discharge  his  or  her  duties because  of  physical  or  mental  reason,  are  proven  with  evidence  by  at least three members.

Article 101 also has a provision that one fourth of the total members of the House of Representatives may move a motion of impeachment against the President, Vice President, chief justice, apex court judges, members of the Judicial Council, and officials of constitutional bodies.

Former election commissioner Shrestha said that EC officials had hinted at the impeachment provision of the constitution indirectly when they raised concerns over the government’s influence in fixing the election date.

Although the EC had been ready to hold the local elections in a single phase on May 14, the government later decided to hold them in two phases, scheduling the last polling for June 14.

When the impeachment motion was initiated against former CIAA chief commissioner Karki, there was jubilation among a large section of the society because of his controversial moves. But when the same weapon was used against CJ Karki, it has raised concerns over whether the constitutional provision could become a sword of Damocles hanging over a constitutional body official.

“The constitutional provision of impeachment is not for allowing the lawmakers to initiate an impeachment motion against whoever they want,” said Bhanu Prasad Acharya, former auditor general. “So there is the need for constitutional amendment specifying sufficient ground for impeachment.”

Published: 08-05-2017 07:47

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