KATHMANDU, Jan 20: Human rights activists and lawyers have expressed serious objection to the ruling Nepal Communist Party’s decision to field former Maoist leader Agni Sapkota as a candidate for speaker.
Sapkota has been accused of murdering a schoolteacher in Kavrepalanchowk during the Maoist insurgency and a case against him is sub judice at the Supreme Court.
“This is clear that a state of impunity is flourishing in the country,” noted human rights activist Charan Prasain told Republica reacting to the ruling party’s decision.
“Since a case against Sapkota is sub judice in the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court, the ruling party’s decision to field him for speaker is a serious disrespect of the apex court,” Prasain added.
Prasain also claimed that the political move has proved that the politicians are above the law.
The apex court is conducting final hearings on two writ petitions seeking court intervention to punish Sapkota for his alleged involvement in the murder.
The constitutional bench presided over by Chief Justice Cholendra SJB Rana has been conducting the hearings in the two petitions since the last one year. The petitions have sought action against Sapkota for the alleged murder.
The bench will decide whether conflict-era cases could be tried in regular courts or transitional justice mechanisms—the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons—even though a section of former Maoists and lawyers have been arguing that conflict-era cases should be dealt with by the transitional justice mechanisms.
Lama’s wife Purnimaya Lama and a section of civil society had separately filed two writ petitions seeking the apex court’s order to prosecute Sapkota and then Maoist cadres on the charge of killing Lama.
“It is unethical to appoint him to the position of speaker since cases are sub judice against him in the Supreme Court,” Advocate Kashiram Dhungana, who has been arguing in the apex court on behalf of the victims, said. “This is a serious violation of human rights and insult of the conflict victims, who were hoping for justice.”
Civil society members including Sushil Pyakurel said Sapkota’s own contempt of court case against journalist Kanak Mani Dixit is being considered by the constitutional bench in the light of transitional justice and victim’s right to get justice.
On March 7, 2008, a division bench of justices Ram Prasad Shrestha and Damodar Prasad Sharma had directed the police to prosecute Sapkota, Yadav Poudel, Bhola Aryal, Karnakhar Gautam, Surya Man Dong and Norbu Moktan on the charge of murdering Lama in April 2005 when the Maoists were fighting against government forces.
The wife of the deceased had moved the apex after the authorities in Kavre refused to register her application seeking action against the Maoists under the Murder Section of the Muluki Ain which was replaced by Muluki Civil and Muluki Criminal Codes two years ago.