Nepal | July 11, 2020

SC orders release of illegally-detained man

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The Supreme Court today rebuked District Administration Office, Siraha, and others for unlawfully detaining Chakra Bahadur Khatri, a resident of Khotang district, for more than a year.

The court asked the National Human Rights Commission to secure the release of the man and warned the defendants that if they did not release the man, then the court may take action against them under contempt of court law. Khatri is associated with Netra Bikaram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal.

A division bench of justices Prakash Man Singh Raut and Kumar Regmi issued a habeas corpus writ today telling the defendants to release Khatri in front of the chair or a member of the NHRC. Defendants include Nepal Police Headquarters and District Police Office, Solukhumbu.

The court also asked the NHRC to monitor Khatri’s situation to ensure that he enjoyed right to dignified life and other rights guaranteed by the constitution.

The SC had issued orders on May 10, May 15, and May 28 asking the government to release Khatri but the police kept him in jail on the pretext of different charges. The defendants stated in their written reply that Khatri was being detained under anti-indecent behaviour laws. The SC observed that the defendants’ accusation of indecent behaviour against Khatri was not plausible.

The court said that non-compliance of SC’s order created a doubt about whether the government was trying to evade a court order or to render a court order ineffective. “Any attempt to evade court order or to render court order ineffective in a country with the rule of law cannot be tolerated,” the apex court observed in its order.

If a court order is evaded with the motive of putting a person continuously behind bars, then that could undermine the principles of federal republic, the rule of law, separation of power and that could also erode people’s faith that they have reposed in the judiciary, the apex court observed in its order.

According to the case details, Chakra Bahadur Khatri was first arrested on 15 April 2019. He was put in jail for failing to post a bail of Rs 5,000. The man, who was to be released on 10 April 2020 after serving the jail sentence, has not been released from the jail yet.

He has stated in his petition that he has been arrested by the police on one or other pretexts.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 6, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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