Sunday, May 28, 2023

Walk the middle path


An uneasy situation has developed as Dr. Govinda KC who has been tirelessly fighting for cleansing medical education and health services organised a press meet on 26 June and accused Chief Commissioner of Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority Lokman Singh Karki of overreaching his jurisdiction. KC has announced to sit in a fast-unto-death from 10 July to pressure the parliament for impeaching Karki.

KC has accused Karki of interfering in medical entrance examination of Kathmandu University and Karki has refuted this claim through CIAA spokesperson. While raising objection to KC's expression, CIAA spokesperson commented that KC was guided with ill mentality. The commission has advised KC not to be a sponsored campaigner. It believes that KC is being mobilised by a group of people with vested interests. KC has not countered any of these claims.

Due to KC's silence in this matter, people supporting him are in a fix. They are divided whether to back KC's campaign or not. Meanwhile, Kathmandu University has informed that the said medical entrance examination was fairly conducted. University Dean Bhola Thapa told the media that after getting information of leaked questions CIAA team sprung into action and a group of experts prepared another set of questions in CIAA's presence and the exams were conducted. Dean Thapa has clarified that there are no irregularities.

But Thapa's statement should have been effective before Senate-member of that University Kedarbhakta Mathema's resignation from his post on Tuesday. Likewise, it would have been better if six ex-vice chancellors including Mathema (who is ex-vice chancellor of Tribhuvan University as well) urged for parliamentary inquiry.

Good governance and Monitoring Committee of the parliament has pulled up Chief Commissioner Karki and Dr. KC to question about their 'irresponsible reactions'. This matter has been handed over to the sub-committee.

It is not a good indication that a constitutional body and its chief is subject to such controversy. At a time when news about abuses of authority and corruption have been making headlines, a constitutional body responsible for monitoring and controlling such irregularities is in a defensive position. This development has disappointed people. Only those involved in accumulating illegal money through abuse of authority must have been elated with this development. Country and society may have to pay a huge price for this.

Dr Govinda KC has appealed to impeach Chief Commissioner Karki and other commissioners complicit with him. Constitution's Article 238 has provided for impeachment. Anyone practicing freedom of expression as provided by the constitution can raise the issue of impeachment. But procedure stipulated in Article 101 makes it clear that impeachment motion can be passed in the parliament only by two-thirds majority. There is nothing to prove that Karki has seriously violated constitution and law and there is no ground for impeaching him. Such a practice has not taken place in Nepal as yet. Even in other democratic countries, this is rarely done. Dr KC's hunger strike threat cannot convince two-third members of the parliament to proceed with impeachment motion.

Despite all this, Dr. KC is a person who has done selfless service to the country and led by example. He has been constantly raising voices against fake doctors playing with people's lives. His campaign of discouraging the trend of profit-oriented health service has its heart in the right place. But KC should be alert about violation of people's right to fundamental health services if he sits in hunger strike in hospital premises. Health practitioners and service seekers should not fear the potential of a dire situation created by the hunger strike.

We understand that purpose of both parties to the current dispute is maintaining quality in medical education and health service. For this, an environment of mutual agreement is required. Both sides should be flexible and opt for a middle way and work to free health sector of irregularities.

As an important constitutional body, CIAA should hold discussion with Dr. KC and try to address his complaints and interests. Meanwhile Dr. KC too should drop his rigid stance and show eagerness to sit in discussion process. Rigidity will not benefit anyone.