CIAA to challenge Special Court's order to release 24 Pokhara University officials


Republica National Daily

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The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is likely to file an appeal at the Supreme Court challenging a recent verdict of the Special Court to release 24 officials of the Pokhara University, including Vice-Chancellor Dr Khagendra Bhattarai, on condition that they would appear before the court when required. 

CIAA Spokesperson Shreedhar Sapkota informed that the anti-graft body will file an appeal at the apex court challenging the Special Court order to release officials accused of corruption. “We will soon move the apex court against the Special Court decision,” Sapkota told Republica. 

Although the CIAA has sprung into action against top public office bearers involved in corruption, the Special Court has been releasing them citing lack of adequate evidence. 

“The Special Court has been releasing the accused despite adequate evidences to implicate them,” Sapkota said, adding, “We are moving the apex court to revoke the Sapecial Court verdicts.

A couple of months ago, the anti-graft constitutional body had filed an appeal at the apex court challenging the Special Court´s verdict to release seven Purbanchal University officials. However, the apex court upheld the Special Court´s order. 

A bench of Special Court Chairman Mohan Raman Bhattarai and members Bhupendra Prasad Rai and Narendra Kumar Siwakoti ordered the release 24 Pokhara University officials. The bench in its 16-page order cited lack of sufficient evidence to implicate the officials. “The case lacks adequate evidence,” said Registrar of Special Court Natibabu Lamichhane. 

CIAA on October 28 had filed a case against 24 Pokhara University officials accusing them of embezzling university funds. The commission had sought Rs 22.4 million in fines from the accused. The anti-graft watchdog, among other things, had accused the officials of accepting bribes while granting affiliation to colleges.

Those accused by CIAA include former vice-chancellor Keshar Jung Baral, former registrar Om Prakash Sharma, former members of PU executive council Indra Prasad Tiwari, Bhawani Prasad Pande, Gyaneshwar Sharma and Chandra Mani Paudyal, incumbent executive council member Dipak Raj Paudyal, registrar Dr Man Bahadur KC and planning department head Hari Bahadur Khadka.

Others accused in the case were deputy administrators (accounts) Yadav Thapa and Rabindra Prasad Baral, Dean of the Science and Technology Faculty Suresh Prasad Bastola, former exam controller Karna Bir Paudel, Officiating Examination Controller Purna Chandra Sharma, Examination Controller Balaram Bhattarai, Chief Consultant Padam Bahadur Shahi, Chief of Technical Section Binod Prasad Dhakal, deputy administrators Hom Bahadur Thapa and Gobardhan Bhattarai and contractor Rameshwor Bhandari.

The officials were accused of causing loss to the university by distributing donations arbitrarily, distributing pecuniary benefits to staffers flouting rules, irregularities while clearing payments for consultancy services, hiring cabbies unnecessarily despite availability of university vehicles and irregularities while constructing university buildings, among others.