The Governor Returned, Moral Question for Finance Minister of Nepal

The governor returned, the finance minister on the moral question 

Supreme Court restrains action taken by the Council of Ministers on Finance Minister Janardan Sharma’s proposal to try to run Rastra Bank in vertical order.

Unauthorized interference in the case pending in the National Bank, Asset Laundering Investigation Department and even in the court regarding the suspicious amount. 

Kathmandu

The Supreme Court has ordered not to immediately implement the decision of the Council of Ministers to suspend Governor Maha Prasad Adhikari while denying the illegal intervention of Finance Minister Janardan Sharma. What does the finance minister do now that the governor, who is considered ‘incompetent’ by the finance minister, has returned to the Nation Bank with a court order? Experts have suggested resigning on moral grounds. 

Ignoring the issues being investigated by the Asset Laundering Investigation Department and under consideration at the apex court, Finance Minister Janardan Sharma had directed the NRB to disclose the amount in the suspicious account. After the news was published in Kantipur Daily on this issue, the Finance Minister became agitated and instead formed a committee to investigate the Governor. However, the Supreme Court has issued an interim order not to implement the government’s decision immediately after the lawyers argued on Tuesday in the petition filed by the official alleging interference in the autonomy of the NRB.

Adhikari was automatically suspended after the Council of Ministers formed a committee of inquiry headed by former Supreme Court Justice Purushottam Bhandari on April 7 on the proposal of Finance Minister Sharma to remove the governor. Officials had gone to the apex court last Monday saying that they were being fired in a biased manner. A single bench of Justice Hari Phuyal on Tuesday asked not to implement the decision of the Council of Ministers to form an inquiry committee headed by former Justice Bhandari and the letter of the Finance Ministry dated April 9 informing the officials about the automatic suspension. The Supreme Court, after hearing the views of the government, will decide on April 29 whether to continue this interim order or not.

The Supreme Court has issued an interim order in the name of the Prime Minister and the Office of the Council of Ministers to allow the Governor to fulfil his official duties. Following the Supreme Court’s order, Governor Adhikari has said that he will return to work on Wednesday. “The Supreme Court’s order has further protected the central bank’s autonomy,” he told Kantipur. “I will return to regular work from Wednesday.”

The finance minister is active in releasing the dubious Rs 400 million from the US

The process of dismissing the governor started with the question of a suspicious amount of money brought in by Prithvi Bahadur Shah of Achham. The NRB had started an investigation after the money came from the US in various accounts opened in the name of Shah, his family and employees for the same purpose. The investigation was being conducted by the Asset Laundering Investigation Department on the recommendation of the Financial Information Unit (FIU) of the National Bank. However, the finance minister intervened and gave written instructions to open the account and withdraw the money.

No official is allowed to interfere in the investigation. NRB is an autonomous regulatory body, not a base under the Ministry of Finance. Most importantly, rejecting Shah’s request to withdraw funds from these accounts, even the Supreme Court allowed the necessary investigation to continue.

Governor Adhikari has claimed that he was given verbal and written instructions to clear the account but after disobeying, he tried to resign. The claim made in the writ petition filed in the Supreme Court was reiterated by the lawyers of the governor during the debate on Tuesday.

The governor’s office also rejected the finance minister’s pressure as the Supreme Court rejected Shah’s request to clear his account. That is why action has been taken against him, ”said senior advocate Sushil Pant.

Giving the list of reforms that started after the officer became the governor, senior advocate Pant claimed that the question of lack of efficiency was not correct. What are the actions of the governor officer that shows a lack of efficiency? What decisions did he make against the policy of the government? What makes the government think he looks incompetent? Governor Adhikari and the Nepali people have a right to know about this, ‘said Pant, a senior advocate during the debate. I don’t like the governor’s face, so Mercury has decided to remove him. Such a decision should be bad. ‘

Stating that the NRB Act did not envisage any kind of interference by the Ministry of Finance and the government on the bank, he claimed that the Finance Minister was trying to act as his subordinate body.

Another senior advocate, Radheshyam Adhikari, said that a committee of inquiry had been formed with the objective of removing the governor in any way, adding that such action would seriously jeopardize the central bank’s autonomy. The finance secretary is the representative of the government in the board of directors of Rastra Bank. When did he question the role and capacity of the governor? Attempting to step down at once is a selfish and arbitrary move, ”the official said.

Finance Minister under question, Governor under investigation

He further added that the government should start disclosing the reasons behind the removal of the governor. The preconditions for dismissal are mentioned in the law itself. “It simply came to our notice then. Institutions including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the issue of money laundering. The Supreme Court should rectify the arbitrary decision of the government through an interim order.

However, the legitimacy of the committee formed to investigate the governor has been questioned. Article 132 (2) of the constitution provides that a person who has become the Chief Justice or a judge cannot be appointed to a government post unless it is mentioned in the constitution. The constitution provides for the appointment of a retired judge from the Supreme Court as the chairperson or member of the National Human Rights Commission. Provision has been made for not being allowed to be appointed to other posts, not to be allowed to argue, reconcile and even mediate in any court.

Raising the issue, senior advocate Shambhu Thapa argued that former Justice Bhandari should not be the chairperson of the inquiry committee as the provisions of the NRB Act are in conflict with the constitution. “The former judge, who is not even allowed to mediate and mediate, should not sit in the reporting committee accusing him of questioning the efficiency of the governor,” Thapa argued. Judge Phuyal has also mentioned in the order that the NRB Act itself is in conflict with the constitution. This means that the bench deems it necessary to give a judicial explanation in this argument.

Another senior advocate, Satish Krishna Kharel, explained that the investigation against the governor was not like that against other employees or officials. “Other inquiries are being made to determine whether the accused is eligible to remain in office, but in the case of the governor, a committee is formed only to give legitimacy after the government decides to dismiss him,” said senior advocate Kharel.

In that case, the governor should be asked to explain why he had to be removed. It is a violation of the principle of natural justice to give him a chance to defend himself. ” He said the government had never raised the issue of unsatisfactory performance of the governor, adding that it had failed to provide an objective basis for its decision and correspondence with the governor.

Advocate Tikaram Bhattarai also questioned the non-compliance with the legal provision that the governor should be given a chance to defend himself before forming an inquiry committee. Senior advocates Krishna Prasad Bhandari, Tulasi Bhatt, Hari Prasad Upreti and others also claimed that the government had interfered in the autonomy of regulatory bodies like NRB.

The public prosecutor will state his case in the debate on April 30. After hearing both sides on that day, the Supreme Court will decide whether to continue Tuesday’s interim order. If there is an order to continue the interim order, the governor will remain in office till the final settlement of the case, and the investigation process started against him will be stopped. If the Supreme Court decides not to continue the interim order, the governor will be re-appointed and the investigation will continue.

This is not the first time that the court has restrained the government’s decision to intervene in the NRB. Instead, in a similar incident 22 years ago, the then finance minister resigned on moral grounds. In 2056 BS, the then Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai wanted to make Tilak Rawal the Governor of NRB but the Finance Minister wanted to give the responsibility to Ram Vinod Bhattarai.

Acharya resigned after the cabinet decided to make Rawal the governor amid a disagreement with the finance minister. Soon after, the Bhattarai government fell. Girija Prasad Koirala became the Prime Minister and Acharya became the Finance Minister again. On Acharya’s proposal, the cabinet fired Governor Rawal, but the Supreme Court reinstated him. On the basis of ‘morality’, Acharya resigned from the post of Finance Minister again.

Now that the Supreme Court has put a ‘break’ on the decision of the Council of Ministers on the proposal of the Finance Minister, the question has arisen as to what the Finance Minister will do. Experts are worried that the economy will be in even more crisis if removal and removal are now in the same place. Constitutionalist Vipin Adhikari said that the government has initiated action against the governor in the style of arrest, adding that it would affect the autonomy of the central bank. “The government’s move was wrong. The government should have relied on the governor, believing in the way the NRB operates. A credible and independent commission should have been formed even if it had to take action, ‘he told Kantipur. Governors and governments have reached a point where they do not trust each other. This conflict has raised concerns that it could have a serious impact on the nation’s economy. “

Another constitutionalist, Bhimarjun Acharya, says the Supreme Court has reminded the government of its limits. ‘In a democracy, the government has certain limits. No one can go beyond the limits set by the constitution and the law, ‘Acharya told Kantipur.’ Sometimes the people in the government think their rights are unlimited. That has been curbed by the Supreme Court. ‘

Former General Secretary of the Nepal Bar Association, Sunil Pokharel, said that if the term of office could be removed only on constitutional and legal grounds, the decisions taken against it would be automatically reversed. In the case of Suresh Yadav, the full bench of the Supreme Court had issued an order in 2068 BS and developed a judicial view that the appointment made after the expiration of the term could not be revoked in the middle. Now it seems appropriate for the finance minister to resign. ‘

Congress General Secretary Gagan Thapa says that everyone should welcome the decision of the Supreme Court. The governor of Rashtra Bank has entered the esteemed court while seeking legal redressal. That has to be accepted by all parties, “he said. This incident has further confirmed that.

Former finance minister and UML vice-chairman Bishnu Poudel said that the governor’s official got interim justice by order of the Supreme Court. “The government has decided not to do it. The governor has received interim justice. We are hopeful that the final justice will be served, “he said. But what to expect from this government? Looking for ethics? It doesn’t look like the government is acting morally. “

Former Finance Minister and former Governor Yuvaraj Khatiwada said that the Supreme Court’s order was important for financial stability. “The governor should have kept in mind at the time of the suspension that the court could create such a situation. It is a moral imperative for the finance minister and the prime minister to make decisions without considering that, “he said. Such a situation would not have happened if the decision had been made on the basis of conscience.

Shakti Basnet, a Maoist leader in the finance minister’s party, said that the finance ministry alone would not be responsible as the issue of investigating the governor and suspending him was raised by the entire cabinet. He says, “This is not the reason for the change of government, it is the decision of the Council of Ministers, not the Ministry of Finance.”

Translated News From Kantipur