President shows interest in Niharika Rajput case after attempted self-immolation

Published On: August 14, 2022 11:45 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, August 14: President Bidya Devi Bhandari has taken interest in the case of Sonal Kumari Singh (Niharika Rajput). After Niharika attempted self-immolation in front of the President’s Office Shital Niwas on Friday, the President expressed interest in this matter.

President Bhandari called Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Gobinda Prasad Sharma Koirala (Bandi) and Attorney General Khamma Bahadur Khati to get information about the case. “After receiving a call from the President, we met her and provided detailed information about the incident,” Law Minister Bandi said.

Niharika has been accusing Shivaraj Shrestha of Janakpur of drugging and raping her when she was a minor of 17 years. She gave birth to a son following the rape incident.

Earlier, Rajput was on a fast-unto-death at Kathmandu’s Basantapur, demanding justice for herself and her son in the month of June. She broke her hunger strike on the 6th day of the strike after reaching a five-point agreement with the government. However, she planned to commit self-immolation stating that her demands were not heard.  

Judge under investigation

On Feburary 7, 2022 the bench of Judge Parashuram Bhattarai of the District Court, Dhanusha, gave his final decision and acquitted Shivaraj stating that Niharika had not been raped.

Accused Shrestha was released from prison after this verdict. On the other hand, Niharika started a hunger strike on the court premises saying that she was unfairly treated by the verdict.

At present, the Judicial Council is investigating the then District Court Dhanusha Judge Parashuram Bhattarai who acquitted Shrestha in Niharika's case. Shortly after the decision of the case, a complaint was filed at the Judicial Council against the decision of the case, said Man Bahadur Karki, spokesperson for the Judicial Council Secretariat.

"The investigation is currently underway. There has been some delay in investigating all the aspects of this case and other judgments of him (Judge Bhattarai)," Karki said. “The report will come soon.”

After the results of this investigation, Judge Bhattarai, who is also a member of the judicial Council, may be prosecuted if found guilty, according to Law Minister Bandi. He said, “Investigation is going on. If found guilty, the judicial council will take action.”

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