The Supreme Court has sought a written explanation within 15 days from Education Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha on his alleged role in getting Saraswati Pradhan, who was arrested on the charge of caste-based discrimination, released from police custody.

A single bench of Justice Kumar Regmi directed Shrestha or his legal team to clarify why the government should not issue an interim order in the case filed by Rupa Sunar asking the court to recommend action against the minister.

On June 17, Rupa Sunar, a television host, had filed an FIR against Kathmandu resident Pradhan, accusing her of deliberately not renting room to Sunar after coming to know that she was a Dalit.

Later on June 20, Pradhan was arrested for showing discrimination against a Dalit. But on June 23, Pradhan was released after Kathmandu District Attorney's office found that investigation into the case was incomplete. Later on the same day, Minister Shrestha came to the police station in his official car to receive Pradhan.

Shrestha's action sparked outrage and he was accused of interfering in the investigation and using his influence to get Pradhan released.

After this, Sunar, who hails from Tanahun district, moved the Supreme Court against Shrestha on July 4, saying he misused his authority to influence the ongoing investigation and to get the accused released from police custody.

Meanwhile, the bench has summoned both sides for a hearing on Monday.

Multiple legal provisions in Nepal have criminalised all kinds of caste-based discrimination and untouchability. Article 24 of Nepal's constitution grants right against untouchability and discrimination as a fundamental right. It states that no person shall be subjected to any form of untouchability or discrimination at any private or public place on grounds of his or her origin, caste, tribe, community, profession, occupation, or physical condition.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 8 2021, of The Himalayan Times.