SC orders compensation for wrongfully convicted cop

Kathmandu, August 25

The Supreme Court has ordered the government to compensate a cop who was wrongfully convicted for stealing two service revolvers and was sentenced to four years in jail.

It took Nepal Police Havildar Khul Bahadur Kunwar 31 years to prove his innocence.

The Regional Police Special Court, Patan, wrongfully convicted Kunwar, a resident of Prithvi Narayan Municipality, Gorkha,  for allegedly stealing two service revolvers from Central Police Training Centre, Maharajgunj, in the 1980s.

Kunwar’s chance of  proving his innocence brightened only  in 2003,   11 years after he walked out of jail, when former   policeman Ghana ShyamAdhikari  surrendered before the police confessing  that he had stolen the two revolvers, not Kunwar.

Kunwar, who was awarded four-year jail term and fine equal to one year’s salary, was released on 29 December 1991 after serving the jail term.

The apex court ordered the government to provide pay and perks for nine years of service that Kunwar lost due to wrongful conviction.

A division bench of justices  BishwambharShrestha and Prakash Man Singh Raut issued the writ of mandamus on March 7 as demanded by the petitioner. The apex court prepared the full text of the verdict today.

The SC upheld that Kunwar was a victim of wrongful conviction as former policeman GhanashyamAdhikari surrendered before the police, saying he, and not Kunwar,  had stolen the two revolvers.

The SC observed that the special police court erred in the case for failing to provide  Kunwar a chance of fair trial.

“The petitioner was convicted without clearly mentioning the grounds of conviction. The verdict was not in consonance with the principle of natural justice,” the SC observed in its verdict.

It added that the petitioner was entitled to compensation for miscarriage of justice.

“It is unfortunate that the petitioner had to spend time in jail for no fault of his. The state must compensate him. No monetary compensation can compensate the unjust action taken against the petitioner,” the court observed.

It ordered the government to provide within two months the pay and perks from the date he was sent to jail to the time of his retirement. The SC also told the government to provide him pension.

Kunwar joined Nepal Police on 13 February 1980 and was promoted to Havildar on 2 August  1985.

Kunwar’s ordeal began in January   1988 when two service revolvers went missing from his office.

After the incident Kunwar and another constable YagyaBahadur KC were detained.

Kunwar alleged that he was subjected to extreme torture during questioning and was not produced before any court during the investigation.

He said he was blindfolded and taken to Raniban forest where the investigating police officer told him that he had been awarded death penalty and they were going to shoot him dead.  He alleged that he was tortured so badly that when he was sent to jail, he could not walk without help for two months.

The petitioner said he met GhanashyamAdhikari in central jail in May 2003. Adhikari told him that it was he who had stolen the two service revolvers from his office. Adhikari also told him that he kept one revolver but lost the other. The other revolver was recovered by Mid-region Police Training Centre, Bharatpur, on 11 April 1991.

On 23 February 2011, the police court quashed his appeal without giving him an opportunity to present his arguments, forcing him to move the SC seeking to quash his conviction.