25-31 January 2013 #640

CIAA under threat, Nagarik

Arjun Subedi, 23 January

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has stopped investigating over half a dozen high-profile cases due to political and administrative pressures. Cases including embezzlement of funds meant for Maoist combatants, misuse of the youth self-employment fund, financial irregularities in Kathmandu Metropolitan’s physical infrastructure development, fraud in the compensation provided to conflict victims, and misappropriation of irrigation project funds are all collecting dust at the CIAA office. 

The misuse of funds meant for former Maoist combatants was confirmed a year ago, however, the CIAA has not shown any interest in the case so far. “Since Maoists themselves decided to investigate into the matter, we didn’t think it was necessary for us to get into it,” said former secretary Bhagwati Kumar Kafle at that time. 

Similarly, a case was filed at the CIAA last year after it was revealed that Maoist party was doling out money to its own cadre from the youth self-employment fund. However, details of further investigations have not been released till today. The compensation package to help families and victims of war also came under the radar when the state refused to include families of security forces. However, the commission couldn’t take the investigation forward because of the government’s order. Compensation provided to families of the Madhes movement martyrs also faces a similar fate.  

According to procedure, once the CIAA confirms fraud cases, it has to pass them onto the special court. However, as many incumbent ministers and high-ranking officials are suspected to be involved, these cases are unlikely to move ahead any time soon. 

Officials at CIAA admit to immense political pressure and intervention. “As soon as a case is filed against influential officials, political leaders, or ministers, the pressure starts to accumulate. How do we work under such circumstances?” confessed a CIAA official on the condition of anonymity. 

In the absence of a parliament, CIAA’s operations have been further hampered since it now remains without commissioners. The agency is supposed to have five commissioners including a chief commissioner, but is currently managed by a secretary. Bhoj Raj Pokharel, former chief of the Election Commission says, “How can an independent and constitutional body like the CIAA function under a secretary who is constantly pressurised by his superiors.”

However, Ganesh Raj Joshi, secretary at CIAA says these are all false allegations: “Although it is difficult to work without commissioners the investigations and cases at CIAA haven’t been affected.” According to Joshi the irregularities regarding the youth employment fund and fund for former combatants are under investigation. He also claims that none of the proceedings at CIAA has been stopped due to political pressure. Read the full Nepali version