SC orders judicial custody for DG Sharma; Lawmakers question CIAA performance

CIAAKathmandu / Aug. 1: The Supreme Court has ordered judicial custody of suspended Director General of Inland Revenue Department (IRD) Chudamani Sharma.

A full bench of Justices Deepakraj Joshi, Deepak Kumar Karki, Kedar Prasad Chalise, Sharada Prasad Ghimire and Anila Kumar Sinha issued the order.

DG Sharma was currently in the custody of Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on charge of misappropriating billions of rupees by settling taxes in a dubious manner. He will now remain in police custody until the further verdict is issued.

The anti-graft body has filed a corruption case against Sharma and two other government officials at the Special Court, seeking a fine of Rs 10.02 billion each from the trio of the Tax Settlement Commission (TSC), namely its chairman Lumbadhwaj Mahat, member Umesh Dhakal and member secretary and director general of IRD Sharma.

Following the case at Special Court, the CIAA had arrested Sharma on June 3 on the charge of misappropriating revenue and settling taxes arbitrarily. Sharma’s wife had filed a habeas corpus petition at the apex court on July 11, demanding the release of her husband’s claiming it an “illegal” detention.

Lawmakers question CIAA performance
In another incident, Lawmakers have expressed concerns over what they termed ‘non-active’ role of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) at time when the increasing policy-level corruption was destroying the nation, culture and the entire system.

Speaking at a meeting of the Legislature-Parliament’s Good Governance and Monitoring Committee, lawmakers took time to criticise the government for ‘promoting’ policy-level corruption.

The CIAA which was being criticised for failing to carry out result focused works in fear of being impeached, itself drew public attention sometimes for its involvement in corruption and was gradually loosing public trust for the same reason.

Committee member and former Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal said it was a matter of shame that the sector like education was widely gripped by the corruption. The CIAA annual report for the fiscal year 2015-2016 BS read that the CIAA in this period received the most 5,671 complaints about irregularities in the education sector. The main challenge of the hour was to control corruption in this sector, he stressed, adding that the CIAA should keep its close eye on the possibility of corruption in big projects.

Lawmaker Ambika Rajbanshi, expressing her concern over the ‘tendency of supporting proposal brought by a particular party with ill motive just to get a ministerial post in return, questioned whether it was not corruption to bargain for getting a specific ministry as per the interest of a particular party or an individual.

Another committee Janakraj Joshi informed that meeting that the CIAA report was capable of raising a question whether it (CIAA) was developing into an industry of collecting complaints, demanding investigations into reports that some lawmakers were having foreign DV/PR.

Lawmaker Akwal Aham Saha insisted on that the CIAA performance and activities should be impartial and accountable to the people.

Amanlal Modi asked why the CIAA attention was focused only on bureaucracy while the corruption was believed to be rampant in the political sector.
Kripasur Sherpa demanded that all those found abusing authority be brought to justice.

Lawmaker Chandreshwor Jha said that Commission’s step has been expected to discourage the trend of clearing the bill of tens of thousands of rupees in sharing at the end of fiscal year to finish the budget while Anita Pariyar said that Commission should prepare the action plan viewing the record of increasing corruption cases at the office where there is flow of high number of service recipients and implement the action plan.

Similarly, Uday Nepali Shrestha said that jurisdiction of the Commission can be amended while Harkabol Rai said that the activities of Commission should be effective to reduce corruption cases.

Responding to queries raised by lawmaker, Chief Commissioner Deep Basnyat expressed determination that the Commission would not leave anyone involved in any-type of crime. He said that the CIAA should get the authority to initiate legal process by bringing those in public post under its jurisdiction if they carried out illegal activities.

Basnyat said that it was necessary to describe about the policy-level decisions, saying capacity of division maker has decreased in recent period.

Out of 24,691 complaints filed at the Commission in 2016/17, 16,694 complaints were settled. RSS

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