KATHMANDU, April 13: Supreme Court (SC) staffers on Monday seized the car being used by former Chief Justice (CJ) Kalyan Shrestha and submitted its key to the chief registrar of the apex court, Rajan Bhattarai. The key was returned to Shrestha after few hours.
“Our friends had snatched the key of the car and submitted it to Chief Registrar Bhattarai but it was returned to former CJ Shrestha after few hours,” Hari Bhattarai, chairman of the Independent Staffers Union of the SC told Republica.
According to him, the staffers had seized the car (registration number Ba 13 Cha 6231) and snatched the key when Shrestha's driver Jogman Mahato visited the SC in order to receive the car servicing payment from the apex court. The car with an estimated price over Rs 20 million is being used by Shrestha who retired from his post two and a half years ago. Interestingly, Mahato has been receiving his salary and over time allowances from the apex court.
“The key was returned to Sherestha by the apex court administration just a few hours after it was seized as he (Shrestha) might have exercised his power,” union chairman Bhattarai claimed. The employee unions at the apex court have been pilling pressures on the former chief justices and court administration to halt the freebies being enjoyed by the former bigwigs of the apex court against an SC verdict issued a few years ago.
“After the incident, I have been receiving repeated threats from various persons,” union chairman Bhattarai said, adding, “They have been threatening me saying I will lose my job.”
The union staffers have claimed that altogether 13 former CJs including Sushila Karki, Ram Kumar Prasad Shah, Meen Bahadur Rayamajhi have also been using the cars belonging to the Supreme Court after their retirement. Similarly, former CJs Surendra Prasad Singh, Om Bhakta Shrestha, Mohan Prasad Sharma, Keshav Prasad Upadhayay, Hari Prasad Sharma and Dilip Kumar Paudel have been using SC vehicles with registration numbers Ba 1 Jha 9492 (Ba 1 Cha 4921), Ba 1 Jha 9493 (Ba 9 Cha 4922), Ba 1 Jha 9485 (Ba 9 Cha 4913), Ba 1 Jha 9496 (Ba 9 cha 4925), Ba 1 Jha 9503 (Ba 1 Cha 4131), and Ba 1 Jha 9491 (Ba 9 cha 4920), respectively.
Similarly, former CJ Kedar Prasad Giri has been using a car with registration number Ba 1 Jha 9501 (Ba 9 cha 4878), Meen Bahadur Rayamajhee a car with the registration number Ba 1 Jha 9484 (Ba 9 cha 4912), Damodar Prasad Sharma a car with registration number Ba 1 Jha 9877 (Ba 10 Cha 8433), Ram Kumar Prasad Shah a car with registration number Ba 2 Jha 656 (Ba 11 Cha 4084) and Sushila Karki has been using a car with registration number Ba 1 Jha 2511 (Ba 17 Cha 2383).
Although all these vehicles are government-owned, they are being used under private numbers mentioned in the parentheses.
Noting that seizing any car being used by any former CJ by the SC staffers is an act of anarchism, senior advocate Shree Hari Aryal who is also the chairman of Transparency International Nepal, urged everyone to act according to the law.
“The former CJs have been using the vehicles according to the decision of the apex court administration,” Aryal said. “So the staffers do not have the right to seize the keys of the car of any former CJ,” Aryal said, adding, “This should be according to the decision of the apex court administration.”