Jung Bahadur, following his visit to England in 1850 was influenced by many of the practises that he saw: he gave army ranks to his descendants e.g. Nati General to Juddha Pratap. Jung was very much impressed by the conduct of Common Law in England. Similarly, he appreciated the implementation of Code Napoleon in France. Following his return to Nepal he directed a number of local experts and set them to review the existing laws and practices and come up with new proposals. This was the very first version of the Muluki Ain that came into effect in Nepal on 6th Jan. 1854 CE. Later however, two practices allowed therein, i.e. sati and slavery, were abolished during Chandra Shumsher’s premiership. Rest of the provision of the Muluki Ain held sway as laws during the course of 110 years, until the Mulki Ain was revised for the first time during King Mahendra’s rule in 1964 CE. The third revision was enacted by the Federal Democratic Republic in mid August 2020 i.e. Bhadra 2077.
The reality of day to day matters is that irrespective of who is in power, it is usually with the connivance of some administration staff that abuses of power occur. Political bosses who are in the mood for such activities soon find individuals prepared to co-operate. These co-workers know the ins and outs of the process of getting around the rules and regulations in force. The result is that the Vigilance Bodies that have been put in place to stop such activities or abuse of power are virtual by-standers, just looking on. They too know what is taking place but are not in a position to speak out for their hands are tied or because they are in fear of safety for themselves or their kin. Such instances involving politicians in power is not just restricted to one particular country but is prevalent in many parts of the world. Some examples are as given below.
Carlos Menem of Argentina was investigated for many criminal and corruption charges plus also illegal arms trafficking, extortion and bribery. As per the law, being a Senator, he has however immunity from incarceration!
Following two terms as President of Brazil from 2003-2010, Lula da Silva had corruption scandals and accused of influence peddling. Investigation ‘Operation Car Wash’ in 2014 found him guilty of money laundering and sentenced in 2018 to 12 years imprisonment. Following initial jailing his sentence was later increased to17 years. He was later released in 2019 by Supreme Court and later a judge in 2021 annulled this sentence so that he can run for president again in 2022!
The recent decision by French Court to pronounce a sentence of three years imprisonment on the former President Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2012) is vivid proof that no one is above the law. He was sentenced to jail for three years with two years suspended, for corruption and influence peddling. This is an instance to show that no one is above the law. An appeal has been made and so Sarcozy has not gone to prison . Reality is that he is not likely to spend time in jail at all!
Lalu Prasad Yadhav of Bihar province of India also became a very effective Railways Minister of India and was felicitated for his unexpected impromptu actions. He has been involved in a massive fodder scandal. In reality he spent most of the time of his arraignment in a hospital bed! Easy to manage matters for there are willing hands to clap together.
President Fujimori of Peru (1990-2000) after being accused of corruption and human rights abuses fled to Japan. He was extradited back in 2007 to Peru, found guilty in 2009 and sent to prison. In 2017, at the age of 79 he was pardoned by the then Peruvian president. The Supreme Court over ruled this clemency and Fujimori was sent back to prison.
President Park Geun-hye, first female President of South Korea from 2013 to 2017 was the daughter of Park Chung-hee who had seized power to be President in 1963 and was then elected five times till assassinated in 1979. President Park Geun-hye was removed from power and sentenced to a total of twenty-five years for corruption and misrule. Her Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo had also been made to resign in 2015 for corruption.
Vladimir Putin current President of Russia has passed a certain law in the Russian Duma which protects leaders from prosecution once they have left office! An example of relevant good thinking.
General Franco had taken over power in Spain in 1931 and abolished the monarchy. Then in 1969 Juan Carlos was chosen by Franco as successor but this took effect only in 1975 following Franco’s death. Juan Carlos I ruled as monarch till June 2014 when he was forced to abdicate because of extravagant living during hard time and was succeeded by his son.
Spiro Agnew, Vice President to President Nixon of US (1959-1973) had been accused of kickbacks and contributions whilst being executive of Baltimore County and later Governor of Maryland. Recently there was even talk as to whether the last US President Donald Trump would take pre-emptive decision and pardon himself to ensure that he would not be sued in his post presidential times. He however did not try to do so.
Is our legal system adequate in these modern Cyber Times when information can be gleaned and accounts deprived of tons of money? In Nepal it seems to be a time to issue contracts to business concerns to give donations for political purposes. The result is that inaugurations for nation building are done, money handed to the contractor, a little work done and then standstill. Costs go up, more money demanded and again given in connivance. Still no progress and the public have been taken for a ride. After all, the politician’s bottom line is: If you are smart, you can get away with anything!
The author is a retired medical doctor and writes fiction under the pen name of Mani Dixit also. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd