ANANTA RAJ LUITEL
KATHMANDU: A probe committee formed by the Judicial Council (JC), which investigated then Supreme Court judge (now Vice President) Paramananda Jha,revealed the nexus between politicians and drug peddler Dil Bahadur Gurung when the case was being tried in court.
Gurung is the brother-in-law of Bikash Gurung who heads a criminal gang. The probe panel had stated that the judge had ignored the criminal-politician nexus even though there were evidences. The report obtained by this daily stated that a numbers of advocates were involved in the case on Gurung’s behalf and politicians had asked some of them to take up the issue. But the lawyers backed out when they smelled ‘financial irregularities’ in relation to Gurung’s release.
Former lawmaker Mahadev Gurung had referred the case to criminal law expert Krishna Prasad Sapkota who is currently Chairman of Supreme Court Bar Association through judge Daya Ram Kharel. It seems the committee did not investigate lawmaker Gurung’s involvement in the case.
The sitting Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi and his predecessors Ram Prasad Shrestha and Anup Raj Sharma had investigated the case and suggested that the JC force Jha to resign as he had worked to erode public confidence in the judiciary.
The probe committee had submitted the report to the JC on November 13, 2005 suggesting that Jha be made to resign for favouring a criminal even after direct evidence had proved that Gurung was trying to smuggle 669 kg hashish to Toronto.
Gurung was arrested at Tribhuvan International Airport on March 1, 2004. Under Secretary Dayanath Kharel who is currently district court judge in Dang had recorded his statement in the report stating that when the former lawmaker consulted him in relation to hiring a lawyer, he had suggested his friend Sapkota and urged Sapkota to take up the case.
Sapkota, while recording his statement, said as Kharel had suggested that he take up the case, he had argued in the court on Gurung’s behalf, but knew nothing about under-the-table financial activities that may have secured Gurung’s release.
Then NBA President Shambhu Thapa and SCBA President Dhruba Nath Panta also said they had heard of irregularities and had demanded that the probe committee punish the judge. The lawyers suggested that Gurung chose Jha’s bench by postponing hearings at several other benches presided by other judges so that it would be easier to get favours from Jha.
Initially, advocates Lava Kumar Mainali, Dhruba Lal Shrestha and Ram Bandhu Sharma argued in Kathmandu District Court. When the case reached the Supreme Court, Gurung hired Sapkota. All the prominent lawyers had given up the case when they smelt financial irregularities.