Kathmandu, May 15
Former commissioner of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority Raj Narayan Pathak, who faces corruption charges, was released on bail of Rs 7.8 million by the Special Court which recorded his statement and conducted the first trial hearing today. Pathak surrendered before the court this morning.
This is the first time in recent years that the Special Court has sought so high an amount as bail from an accused.
The order was passed by a bench of Chairman of Special Court Baburam Regmi and judges Dwarikaman Joshi and Pramod Kumar Shrestha Vaidya.
Pathak posted bail of Rs 7.8 million equal to the amount he has been accused of receiving as a kickback from Lambodar Neupane, one the directors of Changunarayan-based Nepal Engineering College allegedly for settling a corruption case.
The bribe was allegedly handed over by Jha to settle a corruption case lodged at the CIAA against a number of board members of Nepal Engineering College, who had made “illegal” attempts to transform the public educational institution into a private one.
Appearing on behalf of the government, Joint Attorney Murari Paudel of Special Government Attorney Office pleaded that there was strong evidence against Pathak that could establish his culpability in the case, and therefore, he should be sent to judicial custody till the adjudication of the case. Paudel said Pathak’s denial in the court had not been tested by the court but the audio-visual clips and Pathak’s telephonic conversations had been tested and those pieces of evidence pointed to his involvement in the corruption case.
Senior Advocate Raman Kumar Shrestha advocates Dilliraman Acharya and Sharad Koirala pleaded on behalf of Pathak.
Shrestha told the Special Court that as per Article 101, any constitutional post holder could be indicted in corruption case only if impeachment motion was passed against him or her, but the case against Pathak was initiated only after he quit CIAA.
Acharya said the CIAA based its indictment on audio-visual records shot in a sting operation and since those audio-visual details were recorded illegally without Pathak’s consent, they could not be used as evidence against Pathak.
The CIAA filed a corruption case against Pathak on March 26 after Gyanendra Jha, an acquaintance of Pathak, told mediapersons and the CIAA that he was coerced by Pathak’s brother Shubha Narayan to receive bribe money from Neupane and to hand over the money to his brother Raj Narayan Pathak.
Jha used Dhojman Muktan, who had won gold medal in the 8th South Asian Games, to shoot video of his conversation with Pathak in sting operations where Pathak is heard saying he made a mistake by accepting the bribe.
Jha and Muktan had launched a series of sting operations to expose corruption case of Rs 7.8 million involving Pathak.
Pathak quit CIAA after parts of the hours-long videos shot by Muktan were made public. The videos were also shown to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.