Three HC judges face punitive action

Kathmandu, June 19

The Judicial Council today sought explanation from three Biratnagar High Court judges for passing erroneous orders in the 33-kg gold smuggling case. The three judges who face the JC’s wrath are Thir Bahadur Karki, Umesh Kumar Singh and Sadhuram Sapkota, according to Information Officer of JC Teknath Gautam.

The JC has sought explanation from Sapkota as per Section 14 (1) of Judicial Council Act and from Karki and Singh as per Section 14 (2) of the act. They have to reply within a week. Karki and Singh face serious punitive action that could even lead to termination of their jobs if their explanations are found unsatisfactory, while Sapkota faces mild action.

The JC took action against High Court judges after a probe committee formed under Supreme Court Justice Kedar Prasad Chalise submitted its report.

The JC had ordered a probe after BHC judges sent some of the accused in the case who acted as carriers to judicial custody but released others on bail or personal recognisance.

The JC had summoned eight BHC judges six months ago and had deprived them of any judicial duty after they were accused of passing erroneous order in the 33-kilogram gold smuggling case.

Biratnagar High Court heard the gold smuggling case after the accused challenged the lower court’s decision to send them to jail.

The smuggling of a huge quantity of   gold came to the fore last year after Chudamani Upreti aka Gorey and his associates allegedly electrocuted Sanam Shakya, a carrier of smuggled gold,  to death for not disclosing the whereabouts of the 33-kg gold smuggled from Dubai in the third week of January 2018. Shakya, 36, was Gorey’s close aide.

The JC had formed a probe committee comprising Supreme Court Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai, Ishwar Khatiwada and Hari Krishna Karki. After the committee gave its preliminary report, the council formed another probe panel under Justice Chalise to launch further investigation into the case. Two other members of this probe team were justices Meera Khadka and Bishwambhar Shrestha.

The JC  didn’t find any evidence of wrongdoing against Biratnagar High Court Chief Judge Kul Ratna Bhurtel and judges Saranga Subedi and Janak Pandey and kept cases against them pending.

According to Gautam, the JC decided to keep cases against BHC judges Umesh Raj Paudel and Nagendra Kumar Labh pending as they retired while the investigation was on.