KATHMANDU, Oct 25: Revoking the verdict of the then Kanchanpur Appellate Court, the Supreme Court on Thursday convicted Sagar Bhatta and Amar Awasthi of Baitadi of raping a 14-year-old girl.
Puja Bohara was raped in Baitadi district headquarters some eight years ago while she was living there to prepare for her exams.
A division bench of apex court Justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Hari Phuyal convicted the two youths of raping the minor. The court, however, has yet to pronounce sentence.
Apex court spokesperson Devendra Dhakal said the next round of hearings scheduled for within a month will determine the sentence.
Puja was raped when she was out in the evening to buy some guess papers. Locals had found her lying unconscious after being raped.
In March 2012, the victim filed a rape case at the district court against Bhatta and Awasthi.
The district judge, Himalaya Raj Pathak, ruled the crime a gang rape and slapped a 13-year prison term and Rs 50,000 fine on each perpetrator.
The case went on to Kanchanpur Appellate Court where the judges, Nara Bahadur Shahi and Ramesh Rajbhandari, acquitted the accused, saying the accusation against them couldn’t be established.
The plaintiff then appealed to the Supreme Court. The case was reopened in December 2017 and Bhatta and Awasthi were summoned before the apex court.
The appellate court judges came in for controversy following media reports about miscarriage of justice.
Last week, Judge Shahi, who has recently been with Pokhara High Court, was sacked for violating the judges’ code of conduct. The Judicial Council, the body responsible for holding judges accountable, sacked Shahi on Friday over the Gorkha Brewery tax case.
Rajbhandari is still serving as a high court judge.