KATHMANDU, April 17: After several deferrals, the Special Court has said it will conduct the final hearings on the multi-billion rupee corruption cases involving former Inland Revenue Department (IRD) chief Chudamani Sharma on May 5.
Sharma is facing two corruption cases at the Special Court. One case accuses him of possessing property disproportionate to his known sources of income and the other charges that he committed corruption amounting to Rs 10.96 billion. The latter is the biggest corruption case in Nepal's history.
Sharma and two members of the then Tax Settlement Commission--Lumbadhwaj Mahat and Umesh Dhakal—have been accused of causing losses worth billions to the state coffers while settling taxes. The then IRD chief Sharma had worked as member-secretary of the TSC whereas Mahat and Dhakal had worked as chief and member of the commission respectively.
In March last year, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority had filed a corruption case against Sharma accusing him of accumulating Rs 42.9 million through illegal sources.
The Special Court had deferred the final hearings on the high-profile corruption cases for months. Sharma himself had played a role to defer the cases twice whereas the court was unable to conduct hearings on the third date fixed for final hearing due to its own internal reasons even after completing preliminary hearings.
Court officials said Sharma has already exhausted the legal privilege of deferring the cases twice and the court this time is likely to begin final hearings as scheduled. Anyone accused in corruption can request deferral of hearing for a maximum of two times. “Since amicus curie has already been appointed and the defendants have already deferred the hearings twice one can expect that the final hearing will be conducted on the scheduled date,” said special court spokesman Premraj Pandey.
Aimed at seeking support from expert lawyers the court has requested the Nepal Bar Association (NBA) to recommend three legal experts. In response, the NBA recommended a team of lawyers led by former attorney general Raghav Lal Baidya. The committee includes Kumar Regmi and Moti Raj Gautam.