The Supreme Court (SC) has released Prithvi Malla of Gothatar, Kathmandu, who had killed a pedestrian while driving under influence and ran away, on bail of Rs 500,000.
Leela Devkota of Gorkha, who was staying in Budhanilkantha, was killed by the car driven by inebriated Malla at the School Gate of Budhanilkantha in the morning of December 14, 2019.
A joint bench of Justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Manoj Sharma released the 21-year-old on bail citing that he suffers from severe depression and asthma. "The OPD book of the Lagankhel Mental Hospital under the Health Ministry on March 13 and the discharge summary of the hospital on July 12 show that the applicant is in severe depression. Similarly, reports of Chirayu Hospital show that he also suffers from asthma," the bench has said. "The order of Kathmandu District Court on January 8 to send him to judicial custody during the trial period and that of the Patan High Court on February 27 to endorse that has been revoked as it seems inappropriate since there is no likelihood of him absconding or destroying the evidence. Do proceed the case releasing the defendant on bail of Rs 500,000."
The bench has reasoned that Malla should not be kept in custody as he is in high risk of COVID-19 due to asthma and pointed that he has already helped investigation by staying in custody for around seven months.
The public prosecutors had moved the Kathmandu District Court demanding he be jailed for three-10 years for reckless driving leading to accident as per clause 161(2) of the Motor Vehicles and Transport Management Act on the basis of investigation report by the police on vehicular homicide.
The Kathmandu District Court had sent him to jail during the trial period and the Patan High Court had later endorsed the order hearing on the appeal filed by the defendant demanding he be released on date. The defendant had then moved the Apex Court.
Malla was arrested on the day of accident. "Preliminary investigation show that Malla was involved in drink and drive (sic)," DSP with the Metropolitan Police Circle, Maharajgunj Umesh Lamsal had said then. "Driving under influence is illegal on one hand. Investigation is focused on vehicular homicide as he has been involved in reckless driving in inebriated state."
Inebriated Malla, who was returning from Shivapuri area after partying, was behind the wheel when the car veered to the wrong side and hit Devkota, according to Lamsal. The car had hit an electricity pole after hitting Devkota.
Devokta was declared dead on arrival at Neuro Hospital.
Malla claims that three passengers in the car were also drunk. The three were released immediately.
Malla, who used to stay in America, calls himself a national level golfer. He had returned to Nepal just a week earlier.