Graft watchdog puts fallen commissioner Pathak under probe

  • Three-member committee is announced to look into bribery scandal

Feb 20, 2019-

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority has started a probe into Raj Narayan Pathak, who resigned on Friday as a CIAA commissioner after facing charges of taking bribe.

The anti-graft agency formed a three-member committee on Tuesday, a day after the Office of the Attorney General said it could put the fallen commissioner under investigation.

The constitutional and legal provisions don’t prevent the corruption watchdog from initiating a probe in the Pathak case, the Office of the Attorney General advised the anti-graft body on Monday.

“The three-member team is headed by a joint-secretary at the commission,” Rameshwor Dangal, spokesperson for the commission, told the Post.

Earlier, confusion had arisen if the anti-graft agency could launch an investigation into one of its own officials. The commission had sought advice from the attorney general on Monday morning if any constitutional provision barred it from starting a probe and prosecuting any constitutional body officer bearer.

Article 239 (2) of the constitution says that the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) can initiate an investigation into an office bearer of a constitutional body after they are removed from their post. However, Article 239 (3) provides room for interpretation that they may be prosecuted, in accordance with the law, only if they are removed through impeachment.

CIAA Officials said they were serious about subjecting Pathak to a probe as his action has tarnished the image of the constitutional body formed to act against corruption.

“The commission was trying to restore its image damaged during Lokman Singh Karki’s tenure,” said a CIAA official seeking anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Karki lost his job after the Supreme Court ruled in January 2017 that he was not qualified to lead the constitutional agency.

Pathak is accused of taking bribe from individuals on behalf of a certain interest group to “settle a case”.

Leaked videos suggest that Pathak admitted to have taken Rs7.8 million in bribe to settle a dispute of the Changunarayan-based Nepal Engineering College.

After Pathak tendered his resignation, there were concerns whether he would also get away without prosecution for corruption like many others who swiftly resigned after their corrupt deeds were exposed.

The engineering college established as a not-profit academic institute in 1994 was caught in a dispute after a group led by Lambodar Kumar Neupane attempted to convert it into a private limited company in May 2017.

Meanwhile, the CIAA has received a complaint demanding an investigation into illegal amassing of property by Pathak. Sujan Dahal, an anti-corruption campaigner, registered the complaint on Sunday.

Published: 20-02-2019 09:52

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