Uprooting Corruption


In a bold anti-corruption move, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Sunday filed a charge sheet at the Special Court against Chief Secretary Dr. Baikuntha Aryal and 10 other individuals for their alleged involvement in corruption relating to the printing of stickers of excise duty. This is first time a sitting chief secretary has been implicated in major venality. A year after assuming the highest position in the nation's civil service, Aryal has been automatically suspended from the post after the anti-graft body dragged him to the court. Dr. Aryal was allegedly involved in the financial irregularity while serving as the secretary at the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. 

According to the CIAA chargesheet, the defendants proceeded with the purchase of stickers of excise duty contrary to the performance agreement between the Secretary of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (as the first party) and the executive director of the Security Printing Centre (second party), allocated the budget and the Approved Purchase Master Plan in the fiscal year 2021/22.

Corruption is one of a major reasons for Nepal's underdevelopment, as it impedes economic growth, weakens public institutions, and diminishes people's trust in the government. This points to the need of ensuring good governance, transparency and zero tolerance to corruption. Much time has not passed since former office-bearers of Tax Settlement Commission, Lumbadhoj Mahat, chairperson of TSC, and its members Chudamani Sharma and Umesh Prasad Dhakal were convicted for corruption. Likewise, former Home Secretary, Tek Narayan Pandey's involvement in the infamous fake Bhutanese refugee scam dented people's confidence in bureaucracy. It highlighted issues of corruption, mismanagement, and abuse of power within the administrative system, leading to widespread disillusionment among the people.

The government has reiterated that it has adopted anti-corruption policy to establish clean administration but it seems that these efforts haven't yielded desired outcomes yet. It calls for the drive with zero tolerance against the misappropriation of public funds. In this regard, the pro-active initiative of the CIAA is highly appreciative. This has established a precedent that any individuals, no matter how influential and powerful, are subject to legal action. Corruption acts on the ill-motived path of meeting personal gains at the cost of public service. The ulterior interests are fulfilled with the misuse of power and authority. The corrupt try to take benefits of the legal loopholes and lack of effective monitoring mechanisms. 

But once under the investigation of the anti-graft watchdog, irregularities come to the surface and on the basis of undeniable evidences, there is no escape at the court of law. The guilty should be punished as per law of the land. At the same time, it is also important to make sure that innocent get the clean cheat when evidences prove them innocent. Punishment to the guilty and reward to the honest people holding public posts can create public faith in the political system and the state institutions. Letting corruption thrive only undermines the foundations of democracy and judicial system, generating a sense of despair and disenchantment among the citizens. Making the nation corruption-free calls for sustained efforts from the governments, civil society, anti-corruption agencies and the private sector. 

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