OAG to file review petition against Batala’s acquittal


The Supreme Court has allowed the Office of the Attorney General to file a review petition against its division bench’s decision to acquit Govinda Bahadur Batala, one of the defendants in Ramhari Shrestha murder case. Batala is a former Maoist combatant.

The permission to file review petition was granted by a full bench of justices Deepak Kumar Karki, Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada and Manoj Kumar Sharma.

Acquittal verdict was passed by a division bench of justices Tej Bahadur KC and Tanka Bahadur Moktan on March 1 citing lack of evidence.

The three accused in the case — Kali Bahadur Kham, Keshav Adhikari and Gangaram Thapa — are still absconding.

Another accused, Arjun Karki, who drove the vehicle used to take Shrestha from Kathmandu to Maoists’ camp in Shaktikhor, Chitwan, was imposed a fine of Rs 20.

Koteshwor trader Ramhari Shrestha was abducted from Kathmandu and taken to the Maoist camp in Shaktikhor on 27 April 2008. Two other people — Keshav Adhikari and Gangaram Thapa — suspected of having a hand in the disappearance of some money and a weapon from PLA 3rd Division office in Ramhari Shrestha’s house — were also taken along with Batala.

Shrestha’s body was fished out of the Narayani River on 10 May 2008. His wife Ramila Shrestha had lodged an FIR accusing the defendants of kidnapping and killing her husband.

The District Court had imposed a three-year jail sentence on Batala.

Murder case was filed against PLA 3rd Div Commander Kali Bahadur Kham, Arjun Karki, Keshav Adhikari and Gangaram Thapa.

According to Spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney General Sanjeeb Raj Regmi, his office had argued in the review petition that Batala and Karki were with Shrestha from the time he was taken to Chitwan from Kathmandu till his body was dumped in the Narayani River and, therefore, they were responsible for his death. He said post-mortem report confirmed that Shrestha’s death was a case of homicide.

The appellate court had held Batala guilty of attempted murder.

According to Regmi, Batala had deposed in the case that Ramhari Shrestha, who had been severely beaten by Keshav Adhikari and Gangaram Thapa, was being brought to Kathmandu for treatment, but he was dumped by Adhikari and Thapa in the Narayani River as they thought that he had succumbed to his injuries.