KATHMANDU, Mar 5: The Special Court on Sunday released former chief of the Department of Revenue Investigation (DRI), Chudamani Sharma on bail amounting to Rs 4.5 million in an illegal wealth possession case.
The former DRI chief was released After he deposited a bank guarantee from Nepal Investment Bank for the bail amount, as sought by the divisional bench of justices Dwarikaman Joshi and Chandi Raj Dhakal.
“After depositing the bank guarantee, he was released,” Nagendra Keshari Pokhrel, spokesperson for the Special Court, told Republica.
Sharma has been accused of accumulating wealth amounting to Rs 42.9 million without verified sources of income. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had filed the case at the Special Court a few weeks ago. The anti-graft body, while lodging the case, had accused Sharma of absconding. So, the hearing on whether he should be freed on bail or remanded to judicial custody was conducted on Monday to move the case forward.
On Nov 29, Sharma was released after depositing a bail of Rs 10 million sought by the Special Court in relation to another case.
The anti-graft body had charged him with giving tax rebate amounting to Rs 10.2 billion to various business groups. Along with Sharma, Lumbadhwaj Mahat, former chairman of the Tax Clearance Commission, and Umesh Prasad Dhakal, former member, were also released after they deposited Rs 10 million bails.
Claiming that the officials had given tax rebate improperly when they were in the official positions in 2015 and that they were involved in corruption, the CIAA invoking Section 3(h) of the Corruption Prevention Act, 2002 had filed cases against them seeking up to ten years jail and fine equal to the amount they had amassed. The anti-graft body had accused them of violating Section 7 of the Act, according to which granting improper tax rebate is also regarded as corruption.
The CIAA, in its charge sheet, had stated that the officials had also accepted fake VAT bills; granted permission even to withdraw cases sub judice at the Revenue Tribunal; received back-dated applications and falsified the official records; allowed withdrawal of pending cases not under the commission's jurisdictions and gave tax rebates even when the companies were ready to pay the full amount.
On August 11, the Supreme Court (SC) had released Sharma through a habeas corpus although the corruption case against him was sub-judice at the Special Court. The SC while releasing Sharma had stated that the CIAA had sought AN unusually high amount of bail [CIAA had sought Rs 3 billion in bail] from Sharma in contradiction to Section 19(4) of the CIAA Act, 1991.