Mahara to remain in jail until final verdict

Published On: December 20, 2019 07:42 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

High court orders conclusion of case within a month
KATHMANDU, Dec 20: Patan High Court (PHC) on Thursday rejected the plea of former House of Representatives speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara, seeking bail in the rape attempt case under litigation at Kathmandu District Court (KDC).

Stating that there was no ground for overruling the district court, a division bench of Chief Judge Nahakul Subedi and Judge Tek Narayan Kunwar upheld the order issued by KDC some one-and-a-half months ago. The bench has also ordered the Kathmandu district court to settle the case within a month.

“The bench upholds the order after evaluating evidence such as the activities of the individuals concerned with the case, evidence gathered from the crime scene, and a mobile SMS sent by Roshani Shahi [the alleged  victim of rape attempt] to his son. These show his [Mahara’s] involvement in the crime. Therefore, the court upholds the KDC order,” Baburam Dahal, the court registrar, told Republica.

“The bench observed that Mahara does not appear innocent from the evidence gathered. So it has denied bail as sought by him.” 

With the high court order, Mahara’s attempt to challenge the KDC has come to an end as far as a general legal process is concerned. But he may still move the Supreme Court under extraordinary jurisdiction if the apex court entertains a habeas corpus petition.

An accused who faces a charge that may attract less than 10 years in jail cannot move the apex court to challenge his or her judicial custody. This indicates that Mahara will need to wait in jail for the final verdict of the KDC.

On November 23, the high court had sought details from KDC in response to the petition filed by Mahara challenging the district court’s November 4 order denying him bail.

Claiming that the KDC order misinterpreted the law and made a wrong evaluation of the evidence, Mahara moved the high court on November 19 to grant him bail.

Kathmandu District Attorney’s Office has filed a case of rape attempt against Mahara, demanding seven-and-a-half years in jail including five years for rape attempt and two-and-a-half years for misusing the power of his office against someone of lower rank. 

Mahara was arrested on October 6 in response to a first information report (FIR) filed by Shahi. She later filed a separate petition in court stating that the police had forced her to file the FIR and claiming that Mahara had not in fact subjected her to any sexual harassment.

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