Wednesday, July 27, 2005


After RCCC Verdict

Kathmandu July 27-Within hours of the verdict by the Royal Commission on Corruption Control (RCCC), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said it is keen to study the Commission’s ruling.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the Manila-based Bank said it has noted the RCCC’s announcement that found six persons guilty of irregularities with regard to awarding a contract under the Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP).
At this stage, ADB does not know if the RCCC’s ruling relates to specific Government procedures, which may be outside the scope of the investigation that was recently carried out by the Integrity Division of the Office of the Auditor General (OAGI), an independent unit of ADB. “This investigation was to determine whether ADB procurement procedures had been correctly followed in the award of the contract,” the statement said.
ADB is, therefore, keen to clarify whether the RCCC has additional information unknown to ADB that might be of relevance in determining possible violations of ADB’s policies or procedures, the Bank said.
ADB will request a copy of the RCCC ruling, through authorities in the Government of Nepal, so that this matter may be further considered as appropriate, the statement added.
A high-level ADB team, that visited Nepal from May 29 to June 2 this year, reported back to ADB headquarters saying that that the award of the said contract was in accordance with ADB’s guidelines for procurement and the loan documents.
“Based on the assessment of the documents in its possession and the interviews carried out, OAGI (Integrity Division the Office of the Auditor General) has not found or received any evidence of collusion or other corrupt or fraudulent practice among those involved in the bidding process for the MDS/ AAR/ 02 contract (Contract of the access road),” the report said.
The ADB had also submitted a copy of its findings to concerned government agencies days ahead of the RCCC verdict, according to newspaper reports.
Interestingly, the RCCC rejected the report by the ADB, the main financer of the MWSP, in hearings on alleged corruption in the project. During the trial early this week, an RCCC member, Raghu Chandra Bahadur Singh—a former Army officer-- ordered defence attorneys not to cite the Bank’s report in defence of the accused.
Reacting to the RCCC verdict on former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and former minister Prakash Man Singh, the duo's lawyer today said they will move the Supreme Court challenging the formation of the Royal Commission for Corruption Control and its verdict.We will file a writ petition in the Supreme Court very soon and challenge the formation of the RCCC and todays decision, lawyer Prakash Raut told. The RCCC's formation is beyond the parameters of the Constitution of 1990 and as such we can file a plea challenging its verdict, Raut said. Police today barred Raut from meeting Deuba and Singh immediately after the verdict was pronounced. Chief legal advisor of the Nepali Congress (Democratic), senior Advocate Shree Hari Aryal, also said the decision by the royal anti-graft body is politically motivated and as such should be corrected legally and politically.If it is not corrected politically, we will have to go for a legal way,? he said. Aryal said the royal commission is not a regular court and the verdict is illegal.
Same as,US Senator Tom Daschle has demanded that the controversial Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) be dissolved and all political prisoners including former premier Sher Bahadur Deuba and former minister Prakash Man Singh be released.
Addressing a press meet in the capital, Kathmandu, this morning, Senator Daschle said corruption cases should be referred to the constitutionally-created Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority (CIAA) (after the RCCC is dissolved).

Rape victims deprived of justice

Morang, July 27- Rape, fear and social stigma. A 16-year-old girl surnamed Nepal, who was raped last April by a stranger is deprived of justice because she did not file the case at the court within 35-day time limit.Unmarried, she has now become the mother of an eight-month old daughter.“As I was returning home from the farm in the evening, someone shut up my mouth and forcefully raped,” she remembers the incident.As for the reason of not filing case on time, she said that her parents didn’t want to expose the case fearing that no one would marry her if they knew about it. “But when we rushed to file the case, it was already too late.”Nepal is not the only victim of rape who has been deprived of justice. A Magar girl of Barangi, Morang who was studying at class 9 was also raped by a stranger about 15 months ago. She also did not file case on time for fear of shame and losing social prestige. Now she is regretting over her indifference because she has become the mother of a six-month-old son.Similarly, last year a group of Indian robbers raped half a dozen teenage girls, nine married women including a 45-year-old widow identified as Safatan of Harchanagari, Morang, but only three of them are reported to have filed cases in the court.Safatan said the time duration was already over while they went to file the case after consultation with their husbands and parents. Thirty-three rape cases have been filed in the Morang District Court since May 2001. But court officials said that more than 33 cases could not be registered because the victims came to report only after 35 days.On the issue, lawyer Shyam Sundar Sutihar said it was necessary to extend 35-day time period with the amendment to the related law. Another lawyer Sushila Karki said that the 35-day time limit had benefited the criminals rather than the victims. “So, the time should be extended as soon as possible.”“In addition to the short duration, the victim’s responsibility to collect evidence has posed hindrances to the justice, making it ineffective and expensive,” said Sutihar.He said that victims were deprived of justice because of social exclusion and their ignorance about legal provision.The law has the provision of 10 to 15-year jail term for those found guilty of raping girls under 16 years of age while those found to have raped women over 16 years are handed down 5-7 years in prison.The victims also get half of the asset owned by the criminal as per law.

Speaker refused to attend a CC meeting

Kathmandu, July 27 - The Constitutional Council (CC) has hit a virtual deadlock with the Speaker of the House of Representatives refusing to attend a CC meeting to recommend a name for the next chief justice (CJ) citing the absence of a sitting prime minister, who constitutionally chairs the meeting.
According to sources, Speaker Taranath Ranabhat has rejected the government's suggestion that the CJ could chair the CC in the absence of a prime minister. To allow the CJ to chair the CC, the government had suggested invoking either Article 127 of the constitution or preparing working procedure of the CC under Article 117 (3) and (4). According to sources, the Speaker has rejected both options, terming them unconstitutional but suggested appointing an acting chief justice.
Constitutionally, the recommendation of the CC is necessary for the king while appointing a CJ. The top judicial post becomes vacant on July 29 when the CJ Hari Prasad Sharma, retires on grounds of age.
The CC is deadlocked due to the Speaker's stance; hence, the CC meeting has not been called as of Tuesday. The government's Chief Secretary, Dr Bimal Koirala, who is supposed to call the meeting of the CC after "consultation with prime minister", also confirmed that the CC meeting has not yet been called.
Government sources said that the Speaker's stance has heightened the possibility of the king invoking Article 127 to give authority to the incumbent chief justice to call and head the CC meeting to recommend a name.

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