Nagarik registers Rs 1.5 billion counter claim against NOC’s Khadka

Published On: September 13, 2017 08:08 AM NPT

KATHMANDU, Sept 12: Nagarik daily has registered a cross complaint with a counter claim of Rs 1.5 billion in damages against Gopal Bahadur Khadka, managing director of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), at Kathmandu District Court, accusing the latter of filing a spurious case against the daily’s top officials and journalists.

Managing Director of Nepal Republic Media (NRM) Binod Raj Gyawali, Director Shova Gyawali, Editor-in-Chief of Nagarik daily Gunaraj Luitel and correspondent Dilip Paudel, in their cross complaint claimed the amount in damages, saying  the spurious case had caused huge losses to them in damage to their reputation and creation of suspicion in  society about their professional standing as well as in  financial loss incurred while dealing with the case.

“We should get Rs 1.5 billion as the false case has caused a huge damage to our social prestige, image, and dignity, and incurred financial and professional losses to us as well as expenses for lawyers, typing, fees for representatives and other expenses in facing the case,” reads the counter complaint.

Lawyer Ananta Raj Luitel, who is also legal advisor to NRM, said that the counter complaint has already been registered and the court has fixed a hearings date for September 17. He claimed that the complaint was registered as per the existing legal provision regarding the filing of cases against someone that brings a defamation case with an intention to cause damage to others.

Unsettled by a series of investigative reportings on corruption cases published by Republica and its sister publication Nagarik daily, Khadka had filed a case against the publication on August 17, and  Kathmandu District Court notified the publication after 15 days.

In the counter complaint, Nagarik daily has claimed that the case brought against it should be scrapped and a maximum fine slapped against Khadka as his case was registered against the law and had presented false claims with an intention to cause huge loss to the publication which is being run nationwide at a huge investment and with the hard work and prestige of hundreds of people.

The publication has also claimed that it hasn’t caused any damage to the NOC official because the daily was publishing news items about  activities carried out in his capacity as an official of a government-run institution and the news items were based on  issues raised in  parliament, in parliamentary committees and at the Commission for  Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA).

The counter complaint has also stated that Nagarik hasn’t caused any damage to Khadka while publishing news about financial embezzlement in his organization and it hadn’t mentioned anything about his personal life and his character.

“The irregularities at a government-run organization are certainly an issue of concern for the entire media and all Nepali citizens and a matter of public concern because it is being run with money collected daily from the public, and the general public has the right to know about it,” reads the complaint.

Meanwhile, dozens of lawyers have expressed their readiness to advocate on behalf of Nagarik daily.

President of Nepal Bar Association Sher Bahadur KC, former attorney general Raman Kumar Shrestha and senior advocates Balkrishna Neupane, Kumar Regmi, Rabinarayan Khanal and Chandrakant Gyawali are ready to advocate on behalf of the daily.  Tikaram Bhattarai, Sunil Pokharel, Surendra Bhandari, Ram Krishna Timalsena and Nanibabu Dahal are among other advocates in favor of the daily.

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