Broadly speaking, Lokman Singh Karki is himself responsible for his downfall which looks certain now.
--BY SHANT SHARMA
CIAA Chief Lokman Singh Karki is a peculiar character. It is not easy to understand him. He ignores the Supreme Court (SC) and its notices served on him as if the apex court means nothing to him. Then he approaches the same court asking it to intervene in the impeachment motion filed against him at the Legislature-Parliament! Does he believe in the rule of law or is he just using this notion in his favour?
Whatever the answer maybe, many say that the countdown for the downfall of the controversial and now suspended chief of the CIAA has begun. Karki has automatically been suspended from his post after an Impeachment Proposal was registered against him at the Legislature-Parliament on October 19. A total of 157 lawmakers – 107 from the CPN (UML) and 50 from the ruling CPN (Maoist Center) – registered the motion in parliament.
Also, a writ petition questioning Karki’s eligibility for the post of the chief commissioner of CIAA is sub judice at the Supreme Court. Various commentators have claimed that even if Karki somehow manages to escape the impeachment motion filed against him in parliament, he is unlikely to be spared by the apex court.
So, it appears safe to conclude that Lokman’s downfall has already begun.
However, this was never easy. Amid protests from various quarters, Karki was appointed as the CIAA chief with the consent of all the major political forces – Nepali Congress, CPN (UML), CPN (Maoist Center) and the Madhesi Front - a little more than three years ago.
The major political parties soon realised that they had made a great mistake but they kept on shying away from their responsibility to correct this mistake, i.e. relieving him from his post. The so-called civil society of Nepal, too, remained tight-lipped on the issue of taking any action against Lokman who appeared all-powerful and invincible.
But there were people like Dr Govinda KC, Gagan Thapa, advocate Om Prakash Aryal and political parties like Bibeksheel Nepsli who kept on fighting against Lokman’s high handedness and were able to turn the tide against him. Advocate Aryal filed a case against Karki’s appointment at the supreme court, and awakened by the hunger strikes of Dr KC, 157 lawmakers filed an impeachment motion against Karki in the Parliament.
Today, everyone’s finger is pointed at Lokman. He is already guilty in the public eye, though the court’s verdict on the case filed against him is yet to come.
In my last article in this magazine, I had said that this could be the last chance for Lokman to act on the major corruption cases such as the Maoist cantonment corruption case. However, instead of taking action in these cases, Lokman instead opted for visits abroad. When he landed at TIA after nearly a month-long vacation, the impeachment motion against him had already been registered. He wasted a whole month in the same way he had wasted more than three years.
Indeed, during the past three years Lokman has done nothing substantial to curb corruption in the country apart from arresting a few Kharidars and Subbas on corruption charges. He never went for the big fish. Instead, reports say, he bargained with them and reached deals. If what he has done so far as the CIAA chief is anything to go by, then it can be easily said that he is not going to take action in high-profile corruption cases such as the Maoist cantonment corruption and the corruption case involving former president of All Nepal Football Association (ANFA), Ganesh Thapa. These cases are just examples. The files of many other high-profile corruption cases are gathering dust at the CIAA shelves.
After the Supreme Court revived the case questioning Lokman’s eligibility for the post of CIAA chief, the CIAA said it would now start summoning those involved in the cantonment corruption case. But now, it has been proved that all that was just a bargaining tool and the Lokman-led CIAA had no such intention.
We don’t need such a person to lead the CIAA, the constitutional anti-graft body. So, it would be better if Lokman resigned from his post before parliament impeaches him or the apex court scraps his appointment terming him ineligible for the post. But given the kind of person he is, it is not expected that he will resign. He will cling to the post as long as he can.
However, it is only a matter of time now before he is relieved from his responsibilities as the CIAA chief. The subject of curiosity is: who will do it first – the Supreme Court or Parliament?