CIAA at odds with Special Court over Pashupatinath’s Jalhari case

Published On: June 23, 2024 08:35 PM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, June 23: “It took a year to investigate, but the court released the accused within a few days. We were required to see if there is any loophole in cases that are presented before the court,” said a Commissioner of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) in an informal talk session. As stated by the commissioner, the CIAA has been forced to appeal in every case filed at the Special Court.

The Commissioner states, “Look at an example. In the Jalhari case of Pashupati, the CIAA filed the case when the gold was not collected, but the Special Court did not take it seriously," he said. "In view of this, it is said that the authority has made a weakness, but now attention should be paid to whether there is a weakness in our legal system."

The undeclared conflict between the anti-graft body and the Special Court is not new. The conflict between them manifests in public from time to time. The undeclared conflict between the two bodies has arisen, especially after the CIAA started appealing to the Supreme Court without being satisfied with the verdict of the Special Court.

There has been an undeclared conflict from time to time when the Special Court acquitted the accused on the grounds that the CIAA has not been able to present sufficient evidence and basis in various cases. The Special Court has repeatedly drawn the attention of the CIAA in the past, alleging disparity in some of the prosecutions.

The CIAA has also been criticizing the Special Court for making public comments from time to time, saying that the hasty decision was taken with the intention of acquitting the defendant or the intention to give immunity to the culprit.

Meanwhile, the CIAA has approached the Supreme Court seeking an appeal against the verdict of the Special Court in the case related to the amassing of disproportionate assets of former minister Ram Kumar Shrestha a few days ago. Similarly, the CIAA is also preparing to go to the Supreme Court for appeal in the Jalhari case of Pashupatinath.

A Special Court on May 16 had acquitted Pashupati Area Development Trust member secretary Dr. Dipu Moni in connection with the Pashupatinath Jalhari case. Three people, including Milan Kumar Thapa, were acquitted. A division bench of Special Court Chairperson Tek Narayan Kunwar and member Murari Babu Shrestha acquitted Thapa, Pradeep Dhakal, and Arun Kumar Shrestha. The CIAA had filed a case against them on charges of corruption of Rs 11.7 million.

According to the CIAA, Pashupati Area Development Trust had purchased only 102 kg 614 grams of pure gold from Nepal Rastra Bank. Only 100 kg 85 grams of pure gold was present in the Jalhari. The CIAA had filed a case alleging corruption in the incident, but the Special Court acquitted the accused.

Meanwhile, the Special Court had sentenced Shrestha to six months in jail and imposed a fine of Rs 9,829,537 in the case. The CIAA had filed a case against Shrestha with a claim of Rs 44.5 million.

The CIAA had demanded a fine, confiscation of movable and immovable property, and imprisonment. However, after the Special Court did not issue the verdict as per the claim, the disgruntled CIAA has reached the Supreme Court for appeal. The CIAA's appeal to the Supreme Court claims that the verdict of the Special Court in this case is flawed.

The CIAA has also not been satisfied with the verdict of the Special Court in the case against engineer Kashi Prasad Gupta. Gupta joined the government service as an overseer in 2038 BS. According to the CIAA investigation, he had amassed assets worth more than Rs 167.2 million till December 2018.

The CIAA had filed a case against Gupta after the investigation revealed that he had amassed wealth illegally. The CIAA had also claimed that Gupta had assets worth more than Rs 100 million in the name of 12 relatives. The CIAA has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against Gupta's decision to amass illegal assets worth Rs 21.6 million. The Special Court has decided to pay Rs 20 million in damages and a fine of more than Rs 21.6 million.

The CIAA had filed a case against Gupta, a retired senior divisional engineer from the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, and his wife Mita Gupta on September 17, 2017, claiming to have amassed huge wealth while holding public post.

The CIAA had also filed a case against Anju Kumari Mahato, Udit Narayan Prasad Rauniyar, Chandeshwar Mahato, Dhiraj Kumar Gupta, Kumar Gupta, Preeti Kumari Gupta, Rachna Prasad Shah, Bikash Prasad Gupta, Vinay Kumar Singh, Bibha Rani, Sangita Sah Rauniyar, and Santosh Kumar Gupta.

The Special Court had convicted Gupta on December 27. Gupta was sentenced to nine months in jail and fined Rs 21.6 million. However, the CIAA has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the verdict, claiming that it was flawed on legal grounds.

The CIAA has also appealed to the Supreme Court against the verdict of the Special Court in another case related to the acquisition of illegal wealth. According to CIAA spokesperson Narahari Ghimire, an appeal has been filed in the Supreme Court against Badri Raj Dhakal, Srijana Aryal Dhakal, and Nawaraj Aryal. They had filed a case claiming that they had amassed Rs 102.75 million illegally.

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