The Supreme Court has set a landmark precedent by re-opening a corruption case involving a former government secretary, arguing that the Special Court had earlier nullified the case on faulty grounds. The apex court ruling, which came a few months back although the full text was issued only recently, says that former defense secretary Chakra Bandu Aryal was acquitted on the faulty technical ground that the case was filed late, after he had retired.
The verdict assumes significance also because the Special Court has dismissed corruption cases against many politicians and senior officials on similar grounds. Former ministers Khum Bahadur Khadka, Govinda Raj Joshi and J P Gupta and three former police chiefs were acquitted by the Special Court on the ground that the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) did not file its case against them within a year of commencing investigations, as it was required to do under the CIAA Act 2048 BS.
The Special Court, however, erroneously brushed aside the fact that the CIAA had filed case as per the Corruption Control Act 2017, according to which it need have done so only within two years of initiating investigations. The apex court justices have termed the Special Court´s decision a serious error and have ordered the reopening of the Aryal case. The Supreme Court intervention is a welcome one and we hope it will pave the way for reopening other similar cases so that corrupt politicians and officials can be brought to justice.
The Supreme Court under the leadership of incumbent Chief Justice Ram Prasad Shrestha has shown a lot of initiative in taking on corruption as well as the corrupt judges themselves. And luckily he has the support of some clean and competent justices at the apex court who have teamed up with the Chief Justice to start cleaning up the mess in the judicial system.
Taking on corruption cannot, however, be the responsibility of just the Supreme Court, given how only a few corruption cases make it to the apex court. Fighting corruption should be the responsibility primarily of the political parties, and unless the political class is committed to the task it will be impossible to eliminate this social malady.
Unfortunately, it´s the political parties and their leaders who are either involved in corrupt activities themselves or have not taken corruption seriously at all. One key indicator of just how seriously political parties regard corruption is how transparent their own finances are. None of the parties has even a passable track record when it comes to financial transparency. Perhaps the Supreme Court should now take initiative to enforce financial transparency at the political parties.