Nepal | July 09, 2020

Patan High Court denies bail to Mahara

Ujjwal Satyal
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Lawyer of former speaker says he will file a habeas corpus petition to challenge Mahara’s judicial custody

Kathmandu, December 19

Patan High Court today upheld Kathmandu District Court’s decision to send former speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who has been accused of attempt to rape, to judicial custody.

The high court also ordered KDC to adjudicate the case against Mahara within one month after completing all court proceedings, including the process to record statements of witnesses and the victim. The high court observed that since prima facie evidence went against Mahara, he could not be freed on bail or personal recognizance.

The high court said although Mahara denied going to the victim’s rented room on the day the alleged incident occurred, his aide-de–camp Kaji Ram Rana Magar recorded his statement at the police saying that he accompanied Mahara to the victim’s place and Mahara had returned to his car parked outside the victim’s home after almost one-and-half-hours. The high court also cited victim’s phone call to police, lawmaker Uma Regmi and her statement to journalist Ajay Babu Siwakoti telling them that Mahara attempted to rape her.

KDC had sent Mahara to judicial custody on November 4. He was arrested by Kathmandu police after Roshani Shahi, a staffer at the Parliament Secretariat filed an FIR on October 4, accusing him of attempting to rape her on the night of September-29, in her rented room at Tinkune.

Mahara filed a petition at the high court on November 21 challenging the District Court’s decision to send him to judicial custody. Mahara resigned from the post of speaker in the face of the accusation after the ruling

Nepal Communist Party (NCP) told him to quit both posts of speaker and member of Parliament. Mahara was elected MP from Dang constituency-2.

Babu Ram Dahal registrar at the high court said, “The division bench of judges Nahakul Subedi and Tek Narayan Kunwar upheld the  KDC’s order to send Mahara to judicial custody.”

Mahara’s private lawyer Murai Prasad Sapkota said “We had to knock the high court doors because the District Court misinterpreted the law. Mahara was denied opportunity of free and fair trial and the evidences produced before the court were not examined properly.”

Sapkota also said since his client was not entitled to move the Supreme Court with similar claim, he would now challenge his judicial custody through a habeas corpus writ petition.

Kathmandu District Attorney’s Office had filed case against Mahara seeking seven-and-half-years jail sentence — five years for attempt to rape and two-and-half-years for committing the crime by misusing the power of office.

Mahara was arrested on October 6 in response to the FIR filed by Shahi. She later had turned hostile by telling various media that Mahara was innocent and he had not visited her room on the day of the alleged incident. She had also filed a separate petition at the court stating that the police had coerced her to file the FIR against Mahara.

Advocate Sapkota said, “District Court issued the order without hearing statement of the so-called victim Roshani, who had been saying that Mahara never entered her room and he was like a father figure for her.”

A version of this article appears in print on December 20, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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