SC hints Paudel panel’s probe in gold scam incomplete

Published On: August 3, 2019 06:48 AM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

Says case filed without proper crosschecking

KATHMANDU, Aug 3: The Supreme Court on Friday indicated that investigations in the 33 kg gold scam conducted by a panel led by Joint Secretary Ishwar Paudel were incomplete, and also upheld the decisions of the high court and district court except concerning one accused.

The apex court said the statements of the accused were not recorded in complete fashion and evidence was not properly cross-checked.

A joint bench of Justices Anil Kumar Sinha and Sushmalata Mathema issued the decision on Friday.
Twenty nine individuals who stand accused in the case of the missing 33 kg of gold and the murder of Sanam Shakya had moved the apex court against the decisions of Morang District Court and Morang High Court.

Suspended DSP Sanjaya Raut, businessman Mahabir Prasad Golyan, Tularam Tharu, Ram Kumar Tiwari, former DIG Govinda Prasad Niraula, Hemanta Gautam, Bimal Poddar, Rajendra Kumar Shakya and Bhujung Gurung were among the 29 individuals moving the apex court. 

The top court upheld the lower courts’ decision to release SSP Dibesh Lohani, SP Bikash Khanal, DSP Prajit KC and Sub Inspector Balkrishna Sanjel without bail. However, it ordered the release of businessman Golyan on bail of Rs 1 million. He had earlier been taken into judicial custody.

A joint bench of high court judges Nagendra Labh Karna and Sharanga Subedi had ordered the release of SSP Lohani, SP Khanal, DSP KC and Sub-Inspector Sanjel from custody.

A cabinet meeting on April 3, 2018 formed a probe panel led by Joint Secretary at the Home Ministry Ishwar Paudel to investigate the missing 33 kg of gold and Shakya’s murder. 
The apex court, in its decision on Friday, said the Paudel panel failed to produce sufficient evidence while filing case against SSP Lohani and some other accused. 

It said when SSP Lohani phoned then Inspector General of Police Prakash Aryal, the call got diverted to then AIGP Bam Bahadur Bhandari. Lohani received his order in the matter from Bhandari. The court in its decision said the Paudel panel “hadn’t cross-checked matters”. 
“As the report didn’t show that the order was from the then chief of the organization, the investigation remained incomplete over a matter that was essential to study properly,” said the apex court.

Likewise, the court has also pointed out that the Paudel panel didn’t mention the crime division’s letter to Sunsari district police office and the requests made to Morang district police office and to Indian police and some Nepal police officers to search for Chudamani Upreti, a main accused in the scam. 

The court said various facts weren’t sufficiently cross-checked in this connection as well.
“It didn’t seem that there was any risk of hindrance in investigations and the judicial process or of destruction of evidence or security of witnesses,” the apex court said about the lower court’s decision. “Therefore, the order given on September 14, 2018 by the court didn’t seem unwarranted.”

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