Pandey granted presidential pardon


President Ram Baran Yadav on Monday granted pardon to corruption convict Pradeep Jung Pandey, immediate past president of the Federation of the Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

President’s Legal Adviser Lalit Bahadur Basnet confirmed that Pandey is on the list of 21 prisoners who were granted pardon by the President.

Yadav’s Press Adviser Rajendra Dahal said Pandey was pardoned as per Article 151 of the Interim Constitution which authorised the President to grant pardon to convicts after the Cabinet recommended so.

If it is not proper to grant pardon to Pandey, then the government must take responsibility for it

— Rajendra Dahal, President’s Press Adviser

Asked whether a corruption convict could be pardoned, Dahal said the President did not have powers to refuse the Cabinet recommendation in such a case. “There are certain cases where the President is authorised to send recommendations back to the government for a review, but not in such a case,” he added. “If it is not proper to grant pardon to Pandey, then the government must take responsibility for it.”

Dahal said the Cabinet recommended pardon for Pandey about 3-4 months ago and the President was not in a position to hold it anymore.

Pandey was sent to jail in a three-decade-old corruption case on March 18 after a Supreme Court order. At the time of arrest, he was the president of the umbrella organisation of the Nepali businesses. Following the arrest, FNCCI removed Pandey and elected Pashupati Murarka as its president on July 3.

Vice-president of Nepal Bar Association Tika Ram Bhattarai said there were laws that barred the government from withdrawing certain cases but there were no such laws about the amnesty and the government owed an explanation to the public in Pandey’s case. He said such a precedent could be misused in future.

Human rights lawyer Govinda Bandi said Pandey’s pardon was wrong in terms of technicality, legality and philosophy of justice. He was convicted in a corruption case he was involved in while working as an accountant at the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage during 1980s. He was then slapped a jail term of three years and a fine of Rs 5,000. Before the arrest in March, Pandey had claimed that his jail sentence was waived by the then king on November 20, 1985, and he was yet to serve the jail sentence of one year, nine months and 27 days. He also claimed that his fine had also been waived by the then king through a separate decree.

The SC in March had observed that petitioner Pandey could not produce any evidence to support his claim that his jail sentence was waived by the then king.