Kathmandu- Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, CPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba held a discussion in Baluwatar on Monday at the meeting of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN).
According to a press release issued by the Nepali Congress Chief Secretary Krishna Prasad Poudel, Deuba spoke to Prime Minister Oli about several issues such as the landslide in Sindhupalchowk, the coronavirus pandemic and the Tribhuvan University corruption scandal.
At the same meeting, Prime Minister Oli and President Deuba consulted on the appointment of constitutional bodies. “The Prime Minister, as the leader of the opposition, consulted with President Deuba on a number of constitutional appointments,” the press release statement said. However, the statement did not clarify any specifics.
According to sources, the three leaders have discussed the appointment of the Chief Commissioner and the Commissioners of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority. Prime Minister Oli has consulted with Deuba, as the appointment of the officials of the Constitutional Commission will be on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council and the leaders of the main opposition parties will also be represented there.
During the discussion, the commissioner of the authority agreed to make Ganesh Raj Joshi the Chief Commissioner. Former Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai, who had been recommended to be the Chief Commissioner by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, will be appointed immediately. It has also been agreed upon to appoint one commissioner on the recommendation of Chairman Deuba.
Navin Kumar Ghimire, who is currently the Chief Commissioner of the Authority, is stepping down on September 13 due to reaching the age limit. Ghimire, who was born on September 13, 2012, is about to retire at 65. According to Article 238 (4) (b) of the Constitution of Nepal, the post of Chief Commissioner and Commissioner becomes vacant on completion of 65 years of age.
Ghimire was appointed as the commissioner on April 2, 2015 . He was appointed on September 20, 2018 after the resignation of the then Chief Commissioner Deep Basnyat. When Lokman Singh Karki was the Chief Commissioner, five commissioners including Ghimire were appointed at the same time on April 2, 2015.
The then Interim Constitution provided for the appointment of a Chief Commissioner and six other commissioners. Accordingly, on March 3, 2015, Deep Basnyat, Navin Kumar Ghimire, Ganesh Raj Joshi, Rajnarayan Pathak and Dr. Savitri Thapa Gurung were appointed. At that time, Chief Commissioner Lokman Singh Karki and Commissioner Keshav Baral were reinstated.
Of those appointed at that time, only Ghimire, Joshi and Gurung are currently in power. Commissioner Keshav Baral was relieved of his post on January 21, 2016 due to the provision of a six-year term. After the impeachment of the then Chief Commissioner Lokman Singh Karki was registered in October, 2016, he was suspended and resigned from the authority.
Following the suspension of Karki, Deep Basnyat was given the responsibility of acting Chief Commissioner on Oct 20 , 2016 on the grounds of seniority. Due to the age limit being 65 years, Basnyat’s term ended on Feb 12, 2018. Ghimire is currently the Chief Commissioner after Basnyat’s leave. Meanwhile, Commissioner Rajnarayan Pathak has resigned after his involvement in bribery.
According to Article 238 (1) of the Constitution, the authority should have a Chief Commissioner and four other commissioners. However, only Ghimire, Joshi and Gurung are placed in that power. While the place for two commissioners is already vacant, Chief Commissioner Ghimire is stepping down this month. Joshi and Gurung are to be relieved of their posts on April 13 due to their six-year tenure. Meanwhile, the distribution has begun as 5 posts will remain vacant in the authority.
Oli and Prachanda have reached an agreement after the position of the Chief Commissioner was not given to the opposition party. According to a source at Baluwatar, the two leaders have agreed to make Joshi, who became the commissioner from the quota of the former Maoists, the Chief Commissioner as per the wishes of Chairman Prachanda.
It has been agreed that Joshi will resign from his post on March 12 due to his six-year tenure. Prem Kumar Rai, who is Prime Minister Oli’s choice, will then be made the Chief Commissioner.
As the calculation of tenure of the Chief Commissioner of the Authority includes the tenure served as Commissioner, Joshi will be relieved of his post in Chaitra. Joshi will lead the authority for six and a half months. Joshi is also the senior commissioner in the authority.
Although Prime Minister Oli wanted to appoint Prem Kumar Rai as the Chief Commissioner immediately, Baluwatar agreed to make Joshi the chief commissioner for six months as he had to please Prachanda to settle the dispute within the party.
Rai will serve as the current commissioner while Joshi will be the chief commissioner after his resignation. It has been widely publicized that former Home Secretary Rai is KP Oli’ close ally, which is why Baluwatar has decided on the strategy of appointing him the chief commissioner immediately after the appointment of the chief commissioner as it could lead to public controversy and criticism.
Joshi will become the Chief Commissioner from Prachanda’s quota and Rai will become the Commissioner from Oli’s quota. Deuba will nominate either Dilip Regmi, former head of the National Investigation Department, or Jaya Bahadur Chand, former AIG, from his quota. Regmi resigned from the department in December 2075 BS while Chand had resigned due to a dispute over the post of IGP.
According to a source, there is a possibility of Regmi becoming the commissioner from Deuba’s quota as Prime Minister Oli does not approve of Chand.
The post of the Chief Commissioner and three other commissioners will be vacant in April. If Rai is appointed as the Chief Commissioner, three commissioners will have to be appointed. As constitutional positions begin to fall vacant, people already close to the leaders will have the easiest opportunity. No new appointment has been made in the authority since 2071 B.S due to disagreements within the Constitutional Council.