The government has sought presidential pardon for Nagarik Unmukti Party leader Resham Chaudhary, who is serving a life sentence in connection with the 2015 Tikapur incident.
The President’s Office has received a proposal to include Chaudhary on the list of individuals to be granted presidential pardon on Republic Day.
President Ram Chandra Paudel’s legal advisor Baburam Kunwar told Setopati that the proposal to grant pardon to Chaudhary arrived at the President’s Office on Wednesday.
“The Home Ministry’s proposal arrived at the President’s Office at around 2:30 PM yesterday. The file is quite big. Nothing was done on it today as it was a holiday, it will be studied from tomorrow,” Kunwar told Setopati.
President Paudel is planning to seek advice from legal experts regarding the Home Ministry’s proposal.
The president’s political advisor Sunil Thapa said that President Paudel will consult the attorney general and other legal experts on the issue.
The President’s Office will study the proposal and send it back to the Home Ministry, which will forward a list of individuals recommended for presidential pardon to the Cabinet for a decision. The president will then grant pardon to those on the list approved by the Cabinet.
On May 16, the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the Dipayal High Court’s verdict to slap a life sentence on Chaudhary over the Tikapur incident.
A joint bench of Justices Ananda Mohan Bhattarai and Nahakul Subedi endorsed the lower court’s verdict to slap a life sentence on Chaudhary saying the defendant’s appeal for acquittal was not justified.
The SC verdict arrived less than a week after the government registered an amendment to the Criminal Code 2017 to withdraw cases of Chaudhary and leaders and cadres of the CK Raut-led Janamat Party and Netra Bikram Chand’s party.
Nagarik Unmukti Party has four lawmakers in the House of Representatives. Party chaiperson Ranjita Shrestha is the minister for land management, cooperatives and poverty alleviation. Shrestha is Chaudhary’s wife.
Chaudhary is one of the main accused of the Tikapur incident in which eight police personnel including an SSP of Nepal Police and a toddler were lynched on August 24, 2015.
The Kailali District Court slapped a life sentence on Chaudhary over the Tikapur incident and the Dipayal High Court endorsed the life sentence.
Chaudhary, who had been absconding after the Kailali killings, surrendered before the Kailali District Court on February 26, 2018. He has been serving his life sentence at Dilli Bazar Jail since then.
He was sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives on January 3, 2019, even as the case was sub judice in the district court. He remained in judicial custody and was not allowed to attend the House meeting even after being sworn in. He lost the post of lawmaker after the district court slapped a life sentence on him.
Chaudhary had filed candidacy for federal parliament in 2017 from Kailali-1 on a Rastriya Janata Party ticket through an agent. He had won the election by a margin of around 19,000 votes securing 34,341 votes.
The government had filed a case against Chaudhary in the Kailali District Court considering him to be one of the main accused of the Tikpaur incident. The Supreme Court in December 2017 had refused to register a writ petition he tried to file through an agent on his behalf demanding he be released on date.
The single bench of Justice Tanka Moktan had ordered Chaudhary to seek legal remedy through the court if he were innocent when he again moved the SC against the administration's decision to not register his petition. "The applicant must get acquittal through a legal process of the court if he were not guilty and the charges against him were false," the bench had said. "Knowingly allowing an accused a means of receiving the facilities and rights provided by the state by evading or defying the court process will promote impunity in the country," the bench had said.
The Kailali District Court then had slapped a life sentence on him and the Dipayal High Court had endorsed the district court verdict.