KATHMANDU, Feb 18- Amid widespread demand to arrest Raj Naryan Pathak, a controversial former commissioner of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), the parliament as well as the anti-graft body, which are supposed to take action against him, have been passing the buck to each other.
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Their reluctance to take action against Pathak comes after the CIAA commissioner resigned from his position admitting that he received Rs 7.8 million in bribe from the college management committee of a Bhaktapur-based college. The parliament, which had initially vowed to probe the bribe case and impeach Pathak, is now passing the buck to the anti-graft body arguing that taking action against Pathak falls under the jurisdiction of the anti-graft body.
By Sunday evening, the anti-graft body has not taken any decision to start a probe into Pathak’s involvement in the bribe case. CIAA spokesman Rameshwar Dangal said the commission has not even formally discussed initiating action against Pathak. “Some media outlets have reported that the CIAA has decided to investigate Pathak. As per my knowledge, no such decision has been taken, nor any discussion was held at the commission,” said Dangal.
Parliamentarians and former commissioners of the anti-graft body, however, have been suggesting that it’s the CIAA’s responsibility to begin the probe once its commissioner is accused of involvement in bribery.
“Why is the CIAA overlooking such a high-profile case?” questioned lawmaker Yogesh Bhattarai, “They must initiate a probe immediately for the sake of CIAA’s own prestige,” said Bhattarai, adding, “Otherwise, the credibility of the anti-graft body like CIAA will always be at stake.”
Lambodar Neupane, chairperson of the management committee formed to oversee the Bhaktapur-based Nepal Engineering College, had offered the bribe to Pathak seeking his favor for settling the row over whether to transfer public college into a private one so that he could get maximum benefit from the college. Since the bribe case was exposed by the media, pressure is mounting on parliament and CIAA to book Pathak.
But the responsible agencies have not taken any initiatives to book Pathak for his involvement in bribe as per the prevailing anti-corruption laws.
The anti-graft body, which often conducts sting operations to arrest junior government officials, after getting a tip off, has not taken any initiative to arrest its own former commissioner even after he admitted his involvement in bribery.
The anti-graft body itself provides the bait money as part of its support to conduct the sting operations to trap bribe-seeking government officials. But the anti-graft body is reluctant to arrest Pathak.
Sunday alone, the anti-graft body arrested Hridayaraj Bajgain, a sub-engineer in the district of Kanchanpur on charge of receiving Rs 60,000 from service seekers promising to settle payment of a development project. Bajgain was immediately arrested.
A non-gazetted official of Saptari Land Revenue Office, Ram Narayan Sharma and computer operator Rajesh Kumar Sah were also arrested on Sunday on the charge of receiving bribe from service seekers. But why is the CIAA reluctant to arrest Pathak, who has already admitted that he had received Rs 7.8 million in bribe, and begin an investigation?
The CIAA has not responded to the question for days.