22-28 January 2016 #792

Bribery in the Supreme Court

Tufan Neupane in Himal Khabarpatrika, 17-23 January

Bhanu Bhattarai

Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha recently asked journalists not to write about corruption in the judiciary without solid evidence. He said: “If you print rumours about corruption, it will only help corrupt officials. We can take action only if such stories are written after a proper investigation is conducted.”

In the judiciary, corruption cases are always hush-hush. Justices, advocates, and administrative staff often hear of bribery cases but do not find enough evidence to expose the culprits.

But Shrestha now has something to dig into. A service seeker has claimed that she bribed three staffers of the Foreign Employment Tribunal, a court under the purview of the Supreme Court (SC), to forward her file.

a, whose husband Chhatra Bahadur Shrestha, was arrested last year on the charge of swindling migrant workers, alleges that the tribunal’s registrar, Kedar Poudel, and non-gazette staffers Narayan Prasad Sedhai and Ram Sharan Acharya demanded Rs 55,000 to forward her husband’s file. “I personally gave Sedhai Rs 15,000,” she said. “My cousin gave Acharya Rs 40,000.”

Shrestha is now in custody after failing to deposit bail of Rs 5.8 million. His wife, Apsara Koirala, wanted to offer her brother’s land in Dhading as bail guarantee.

Acharya has dismissed the assertion against him and his colleagues. “Her allegation is baseless,” he said. “We want a probe into her accusation.” 

But Koirala says that even after bribing the tribunal staff, her work was not finished.

“After I gave them the money, they wrote to the land revenue office in Dhading to evaluate the land that I wanted to deposit as a bail amount,” she says. “Land surveyor Lekhnath Burlakoti demanded Rs 150,000 for this evaluation.”

Koirala complained to the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) about Burlakoti, and right after he accepted the money from Koirala, he was arrested. Burlakoti now faces a trial at the special court, but the CIAA has not shown any interest in investigating further allegations against the tribunal staff. 

Now that Chief Justice Shrestha has the required evidence, will he look into allegations leveled against the tribunal staff? Koirala is waiting for the answer.

Read also:

Enter: Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha, Binita Dahal

Man in a hurry

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