AG consulting experts to challenge stay order in Sumargi case

Published On: December 30, 2018 04:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Dec30: The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is consulting legal experts about filing a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the apex court's recent stay order clearing a way for businessman Ajeya Sumargi to withdraw unexplained money that was blocked by Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB).

A single bench of Justice Deepak Raj Joshee, in a short-term stay order pending further hearings, had ordered the government and the central bank not to bar the businessman from withdrawing the money deposited in the accounts of Muktishree Industries Private Limited, which is owned by Sumargi. NRB has blocked the sum of USD 7 million brought in from foreign banks, citing lack of clear sources for the money.

According to a source, Attorney General Agni Kharel has been consulting legal experts over filing a petition requesting the apex court to vacate the stay order.

"Consultations are being held," a source privy to the development told Republica. "It would be too late to wait until the next hearings scheduled by the Supreme Court for January 8. So a petition may be registered seeking to vacate the stay order," said the source.

There is a provision under Rule 49 (7) of the Supreme Court Rules regarding filing a petition to vacate a stay order. Such a petition shall be submitted to a division bench of justices .

"If there is no political influence at work, the OAG will file a separate petition soon," the source claimed. The OAG, however, had not filed any such petition challenging similar stay orders issued in favor of Sumargi and the Ncell company last year.

"We have been following the practice in many cases. But in some other cases it mightn't have been followed," a high ranking official said. When contacted for his reaction, Sanjeevraj Regmi, spokesperson for the OAG, declined to comment. "I don't know anything about this issue," he added.

Issuing a short-term stay order, the single bench of Justice Joshee had directed the government and NRB not to prohibit Sumargi from withdrawing the amount in question from the bank. Though the bench issued the stay order on Tuesday the text of the order was made public only on Thursday.

The court has summoned officials of the government and NRB for January 8 when it will decide whether or not to extend the short-term stay order. But the court has already directed the government and the central bank to allow the business firm to withdraw the contested amount.

The court order states: “The short-term stay order has been issued in consideration of the principle of balance of convenience until the next hearings from both sides. So don't prohibit the industrial firm from withdrawing the amount as per its demand and routine and don't create any hurdle to the firm withdrawing the amount, until there is a next order.”

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