Supreme Court asks police again to arrest Dhungel

- DEWAN RAI, Kathmandu

Dec 26, 2016-

The Verdict Implementation Directorate of the Supreme Court has reminded the law enforcement agencies to arrest former Maoist lawmaker Balkrishna Dhungel, a murder convict.

Dhungel was found guilty of killing one Ujjan Kumar Shrestha of Okhaldhunga in 1998. The Okhaldhunga District Court had convicted Dhungel, along with eight others, in the murder case in 2004.

The court sentenced them to life imprisonment with confiscation of property. The Rajbiraj Appellate Court had given Dhungel a clean chit in 2006.

Responding to the appeal of victim’s sister Sabitri Shrestha, the apex court upheld the district court’s verdict in 2010. However, he was never arrested.

In 2011, the Baburam Bhattarai-led government had recommended Dhungel for presidential clemency, which was turned down by the apex court.

The directorate, immediately after the verdict, had written to Nepal Police to implement the court order. Police, however, never responded to the letter in 11 months.

“Eleven years have gone by since the court convicted him,” said Krishna Saran Lamichhane, an official at the directorate. “By delaying the implementation of the court order, law enforcement agencies deprive the victims of their right to justice.”

Writing to the Home Ministry and the Nepal Police, the directorate has pointed out the lack of coordination and cooperation among the law enforcement agencies to implement the court order.

“Although it is a constitutional obligation of the government to implement the verdicts and orders of the court, a huge number of court rulings have not been implemented over the years,” read the letter. “The state and its agencies must honour court verdicts and implement them.”

There is no time-bound legal obligation for state agencies to implement the court verdicts and orders. The Judicial Administration Act, however, has a provision that allows the court to slap a fine if any government authority fails to provide it with the demanded documents.

Although Shrestha’s relatives accuse police of letting Dhungel go scot-free, the authorities say they are looking for him. “It’s not true that we are not doing anything,” said police spokesman SSP Thakur Prasad Gyawali.

The CPN (Maoist Centre) claims Dhungel’s case to be a transitional justice issue, even if the court proved him guilty under the criminal justice system.

By avoiding arrest, Dhungel has been shortening his time in jail. The first verdict had come in 2004 for life imprisonment. With his brief stay in jail, Dhungel is required to spend a total of 12-and-a-half years behind bars. In 

Nepal, life imprisonment lasts 20 years.

Published: 26-12-2016 08:17

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