Uprety, authority on corporate law, dies at ‘my own will’

- BHADRA SHARMA, Kathmandu
Uprety, authority on corporate law, dies at ‘my own will’

May 25, 2015-

Bharat Raj Uprety, a pioneer corporate lawyer and former justice of Supreme Court, died at his private residence in Gyaneshwor on Monday. He was widely hailed for his professional integrity. Some of his books, including one on Company Law, are essential readings for law students in Nepal.

Uprety, 63, was found hanging in his study at 3am on Monday. Uprety, who lived with his wife and a helper, was sleeping alone in a separate room. Police have recovered a suicide note which said that he had taken his life “at my own will. Do not perform my final rites. Please give my body to the [TU] Teaching Hospital for medical study and deposit the cost of my rites, Rs500,000, to the Prime Minister Disaster Relief Fund for earthquake victims.”

Uprety played an important role in the formulation of a number of laws related to finance and private sectors. He later joined the Supreme Court as a Justice and was instrumental in establishing the commercial bench in Appellate Courts.

Uprety had also convinced then-Chief Justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhi to set up a separate commercial bench in several Appellate Courts. Currently, such benches are operational in Biratnagar, Patan, Butwal, Pokhara and Nepalgunj appellate courts, where commercial and corporate affairs are addressed separately.

“The credit for establishing commercial benches to deal with financial and commercial affairs in six Appellate Courts goes to him,” said Shiva Rijal, an advocate who worked with Uprety for years. He is also credited with formulating key Acts on banking and financial institutions, including Nepal Rastra Bank Act-2058.

Uprety’s sudden demise, lawyers said, is a big loss to Nepal’s legal fraternity. “He will be missed while formulating key financial laws. His demise is a big loss for the nation. It leaves a huge void mainly in banking and financial institutions and the corporate sector,” said Rijal.

His colleagues and even seniors would consult with Uprety when they had to deal with complex corporate and commercial affairs. “I was not so good in the field of banking and corporate law but I was never wrong as I used to consult with him whenever any confusion arose,” recalled former Supreme Court Justice Prakash Osti, about his 40-year companionship with Uprety.

During his stay in the apex court, Uprety issued a number of landmark verdicts that include cutting down privileges to the political class and issuing voter ID cards only on the basis of citizenship card. In December 2011, Uprety and Justice Abdesh Kumar Jha directed the government not to provide “illegal” perks to former prime ministers, former home ministers and members of former royal family—a decision that was overwhelmingly welcomed by the public, although the political class was irked by it.

Uprety’s verdict on voter ID is taken as a major factor for the smooth Constituent Assembly elections in 2013. A special bench of Justices Balram KC, Bharat Raj Uprety and Bharat Bahadur Karki had ordered the government not to register those without valid citizenship cards in the voter roll.

A section of the population, however, criticised Uprety as “anti-Madhes” and labelled him as “ultra-nationalist”. “Some people criticised him but the verdict was right,” said Osti.

The Supreme Court awarded him the Senior Advocate title in 2008. A year later, the Judicial Council appointed him as a temporary justice in the apex court. He resigned from the position nearly two months before completing his tenure. Many take Upretry’s resignation as a swipe against then-Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi’s reluctance to promote him as a permanent justice despite working for years as a temporary judge.

Immediately after resigning, he returned to his Pioneer Law Firm that he established along with incumbent Constituent Assembly Chairman Subas Nembang in 1982. Uprety is survived by a son, two daughters and his wife.

Published: 26-05-2015 06:56

User's Feedback

Click here for your comments

Comment via Facebook

Don't have facebook account? Use this form to comment