KATHMANDU, July 8: Several old cases are pending at the Supreme court (SC) - some for the past two decades - due to the ‘lack of time’ to hear these cases. One such case in point is the case involving former executive general manager of Nepal Oil Corporation, Yuvraj Sharma. After a series of hearings on the corruption case filed against Sharma, the SC ruled to announce the final verdict on the case. It’s already been two years since that SC decision, but the final verdict on the case hasn’t been announced. The SC ruled two years ago that Sharma had embezzled Rs 5.4 million, but the final verdict on the case is yet to be made.
In 2013, a joint bench of the then Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi and Justice Sushila Karki stated that Sharma had amassed assets worth Rs 5.4 million. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority had filed a corruption case against Sharma at the Special Court. The Special Court had decided to acquit Sharma.
On January 9, 2013, the Supreme Court, reversing the decision of the Special Court, held Sharma guilty and slapped him with a fine of Rs 5.3 million. The Supreme Court had ordered that Sharma's movable and immovable property be confiscated. Against the Supreme Court's decision, Sharma had again appealed to the Supreme Court for a review of the verdict. The case was reopened after the Supreme Court ordered a review.
Deciding to reverse its own decision, the Supreme Court registered a review case on May 26, 2015. In the same case that was heard on Wednesday, an order has been issued to pronounce the verdict again.
The Supreme Court was to pronounce the verdict on March 25, 2021. Despite the order to pronounce the verdict, the case has been going on for two years due to lack of decision.
In 2021, a full bench of Justices Purushottam Bhandari, Sushmalata Mathema and Manoj Kumar Sharma had ordered to pronounce the verdict. Then, on 15 April 2021, the same bench ordered that the date to pronounce the verdict had been rescheduled. Then up to 6 times in a row, the SC justices said there was not enough time to decide the case. A full bench of Justices Bamkumar Shrestha, Hari Prasad Phuyal and Nahakul Subedi had ordered to keep the casefile with them.
According to the rules of the Supreme Court, the decision should be announced within a month of the order. ‘Any issue discussed before the bench involves complex constitutional or legal questions. If there is a need for further study of the case or discussion among the judges and the decision cannot be pronounced on the same day, the concerned bench will fix a time limit of one month at most,” the rules state.
The bench, which had ordered to pronounce the verdict, did not take any decision and the case was taken to another bench. Last April 8, the case reached the full bench of Justices Bakmukmar Shrestha, Hari Prasad Phuyal and Nahakul Subedi. The issue was then ordered to be ‘kept with the casefile’. In the case where the decision had been withdrawn four times before, the previous bench had ordered to keep the case file with it without hearing the decision. After that, an order was issued to announce the verdict on June 10.
As many as eight SC justices have already ruled that it was not possible to hear the case. Chief Justice (Suspended) Cholendra Samsher JBR, Acting Chief Justice Deepak Kumar Karki, Justices Tej Bahadur KC, Bishwambhar Prasad Shrestha, Prakash Man Singh Raut and Kumar Regmi are on the list.
Besides the case of Sharma, the CIAA had filed a corruption case against eight persons including former minister Govinda Raj Joshi on April 9, 2008. The case was then registered at the Special Court which imposed a fine of Rs 16.14 million on Joshi. An appeal was filed at the Supreme Court seven years ago against the decision. Corruption cases including Joshi’s have been pending for 20 years as they could not be decided by the Supreme Court.