KATHMANDU, Sept 24: The Ministry of Education (MoE) has sacked Dolindra Prasad Sharma, chairman and general manager of the Sajha Prakashan on Sunday in the allegation of multiple irregularities.
A meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Gopal Man Shrestha and held at the MoE on Sunday decided to sack Sharma from the post of chairperson, GM and member of the board, said Dr Hari Prasad Lamsal, spokesman for the MoE. “We dismissed him from all the posts he was bearing in the Sajha,” said Lamsal. “The Ministry will decide soon about the interim management of the Sajha Publication.”
Unsatisfied with clarification from GM Sharma, the Ministry of Education (MoE) sought second clarification asking him 'why not to sack you' on September 12. Earlier, a meeting held on September 4 decided to seek the clarification from GM Sharma on the basis of the report prepared by the ministry regarding irregularities in the Sajha Prakashan, giving three-day time, and the ministry handed over the letter to Sharma on September 6.
GM Sharma has been accused of appointing those close to political leaders and media persons, not carrying out audit after he was appointed in Sajha, not maintaining records of annual incomes and book publications, using Sajha logo using in private publishers, transferring Rs 5 million from Sajha to GM's account, and GM also serving as chairman against the rules.
Asking to submit a report within 15 days, the MoE on July 27 formed the probe committee headed by Ganesh Dhakal, undersecretary of Monitoring and Evaluation Division of the MoE that included Resham Sigdel, undersecretary of the Law Section and Bhola Nath Paudel, accounts officer of the MoE. On August 3, the MoE removed Paudel from the panel as GM Sharma appointed Paudel's wife Nabina after the formation of the panel and the ministry nominated Sunita Khanal, an accounts officer at the Department of Education.
The panel submitted its report to DPM Shrestha about four weeks ago recommending immediately sacking the Sajha management committee and taking action against the culprits involved in the irregularities. Sajha Prakashan board members include nominated Pradip Nepal, Dinanath Sharma and Dr Krishna Hari Baral while Bijaya Subba, Harihar Khanal and Jeevan Chandra Koirala were elected members.
During the tenure of then education minister Chitra Lekha Yadav appointed Sharma as GM of the Sajha on January 19, 2015. GM Sharma was also given the post of chairperson on July 26, 2015. His terms ended in January 2017. In January 2017, Sharma was reappointed as the chairman and GM for four years while Dhani Ram Paudel was education minister.
Public Account Committee (PAC) of the Parliament has been investigating into the irregularities of Sajha Prakashan. The Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority (CIAA) also has already started investigating into Sajha issues after the news reports were published in the Republica and Nagarik dailies.
A total of 30 pieces of news about Sajha irregularities was published on the Republica since July 22.
The Sajha Prakashan, a state-owned publication established 105 years ago, is well known as an icon of literary publications in the country. However, the publication has fallen in a sorry state during the last decade due to mismanagement and irregularities have taken place under the political protection.