KATHMANDU, Jan 29: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to issue a stay order against newly-elected Speaker of the House of Representatives Agni Prasad Sapkota carrying out the duties of his position.
The apex court, however, asked the authorities to submit a detailed report of the investigations concerning the murder charge filed against Sapkota at Kavre District Police Office.
A single bench of Justice Sapana Pradhan Malla issued the order to the authorities following two days of hearings on whether or not to permit Sapkota to assume his duties as speaker. The court has not barred him from functioning as the lower house speaker but has explicitly required the authorities to submit the current status of investigations into the pending case within the next 30 days.
The bench has also ordered the authorities – Ministry of Home Affairs and Kavre District Police Office – to submit a detailed report on the investigations carried out on the basis of the First Information Report (FIR) filed by Purnimaya Lama – the widow of the late Arjun Lama – accusing Sapkota of involvement in the murder of her husband.
A case is pending at the constitutional bench also.
“It would be a matter of expectation from a person who has been elected as speaker and a member of the Constitutional Council that he would act impartially while performing his duties when questions of conflict of interest arise in future,” Pradhan Malla observed.
The lower house of parliament elected Sapkota as speaker on Sunday and he took his oath of office and secrecy Monday.
The murder-related case hearing was scheduled at the bench of Justice Hari Prasad Phuyal on Sunday but was deferred on the ground of conflict of interest on the part of Phuyal and transferred to the single bench of Justice Malla, which started the hearings on Monday.
Senior advocate Dinesh Tripathi had filed a writ petition at the SC, challenging Sapkota’s election as speaker. The writ petition demanded intervention along with an interim order to arrest and prosecute Sapkota on the charge of killing Lama.
Tripathi in the writ petition argued that Sapkota was not qualified to become speaker as he faces a grave charge of murder and lacks the high moral standing befitting the dignified position of speaker.
Stating that the speaker would also be an ex-officio member of the Constitutional Council, which has among its duties the selection of the chief justice and the heads of constitutional bodies, lawyers representing the petitioner had objected to Sapkota’s appointment as speaker. They claimed that his appointment would have a serious negative impact on the judiciary, the rule of law and good governance.