SC notice served on Karki, way cleared for hearings

Published On: October 19, 2016 01:50 AM NPT By: Kamal Pariyar

Course ahead
     -Karki has to appear in court within 15 days starting Monday
     -In case of any genuine illness, Karki can take advantage of 30 days delay at the most
     -45 days after serving of the notice, the case will be scheduled for hearings 
     -If Karki tries to defer the case more than two times, the court shall intervene and press on with the process

KATHMANDU, Oct 19: The serving of a Supreme Court notice on Chief Commissioner at the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), Lokman Singh Karki, on Monday has cleared the way for beginning the hearings process to to establish whether or not he was eligible to have been appointed  to the post.

Apex court staffers, who were assigned to serve the notice, submitted a report to the court administration on Tuesday stating that the notice was duly served in a public place and a site report prepared in the presence of the municipality ward secretary .

The SC administration has been informed that the notice was served as per the legal provisions, said SC Spokesperson Nahakul Subedi. The Muluki Ain (civil code) and SC regulations state that a court notice can be served at the house or rented quarters of the target individual or in a nearby public place.

The upcoming hearings will provide an opportunity for the chief of the anti-graft body to defend his appointment and establish his eligibility. 

"There are now no hurdles to begining hearings in the case filed against Karki's appointment," said Spokesperson Subedi.

Within 15 days of the notice being served, CIAA chief Karki himself or his representative will have to be  present in court, said former general secretary of Nepal Bar Association, Sunil Pokharel. But in case of any reasons of genuine illness, Karki can take advantage of another 30 days delay at the most, said Pokharel. 

Fourty-five days after the serving of the notice, the case will be scheduled for hearings. During this time, both  sides-- defendant and plaintiff-- will select their lawyers as per the court schedule. 

"Even if defendants and plaintiffs remain absent during the hearings process, the bench will continue with its procedures and issue its verdict," said Pokharel. If Karki intentionally tries to defer the case for more than two times beyond the scheduled date, the court administration will have to intervene and continue with the process.

Advocate Om Prakash Aryal had filed two writ petitions  -- one demanding a court order to stop the then government from appointing Karki, and another demanding annulment of the appointment decision.

The Supreme Court on September 17 decided to review its previous verdict on a writ petition that challenged Karki's appointment as head of the constitutional body.

A bench of Chief Justice Sushila Karki and Justices Bishwambhar Prasad Shrestha and Sapana Pradhan Malla had ordered the re-opening of the case, stating that the previous verdict seemed to go against the principle of constitutional construction.

According to the bench, Article 119 (5) of the Interim Constitution had a provision for appointing as chief commissioner of the CIAA a person with at least 20 years of experience in accounting, revenue, engineering, law, development or research and has earned sufficient renown. But the previous verdict ignored this article.

The bench also stressed that Karki was in the Royal Palace Service for more than six years after joining it under royal command, and was later transferred to the civil service.

The bench added that the Ministry of General Administration, acting on the recommendation of the Rayamajhi Commission, had already started action against Karki for alleged involvement in abuse of power during the April 2006 movement.

Going by the previous verdict against Karki, the chances of his continuing to remain eligible for the top post of anti-graft body are slim, said legal experts. 

Not furnishing the files and documents sought by the court, dillydallying by the anti-graft body in extending co-operation to the court over the case and the recent obstructions while the notice was being served may put him in further difficulties, they said.

SC recommends action against own staff and local administration official  
Meanwhile, after conducting a hearing in a case for departmental action against its staffer Shambhu Khatri, who was initially assigned to serve the court notice on Karki but subsequently went out of contact, the SC has recommended action against Khatri, citing non-cooperation with the court while on duty. 

The court has also recommended action against ward secretary Sarita Rai and  kharidar (non-gazetted officer) Subhash Karmacharya for their alleged obstruction in court procedures. The accused have been asked to submit  written statements in the court within seven days with adequate evidence to establish their innocence. 

If found guilty, the court staffer might be slapped with 15 days of imprisonment or a fine of Rs 1,000 or both. 

Khatri had attended office only after Dashain and Rai had remained absent during the serving of the notice on CIAA chief Karki.

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