The Patan High Court has ruled Prithvi Malla of Gothatar, Kathmandu to be guilty of killing a pedestrian due to reckless driving.
Public prosecutors had demanded a jail sentence of three to 10 years and a fine of Rs 30,000-100,000 claiming that Leela Devkota of Gorkha was killed due to reckless driving by inebriated Malla.
A joint bench of Judges Rajendra Kharel and Jagadish Ghimire has found Malla to be guilty, according to the Patan High Court website.
Devkota, 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.
“The High Court today has revoked the verdict of the Kathmandu District Court and ruled that his guilt has been established as per our claims that he had driven recklessly,” public prosecutor Chandra Sanjel, who pleaded in the case, told Setopati.
The High Court has said that it will schedule another hearing for quantum of punishment.
The bench of Judge Surya Prasad Adhikari at the Kathmandu District Court earlier had deemed the incident to be a normal accident and sentenced Malla for six months and slapped a fine of Rs 1,000.
The public prosecutors had appealed against that verdict with the Patan High Court which has found Malla guilty of reckless driving today.
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.
A joint bench of Justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Manoj Sharma released the then 21-year-old on bail in July 2020 citing that he suffered 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 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him to judicial custody during the trial period and that of the Patan High Court on February 27 to endorse that has been revoked as it seems inappropriate since there is no likelihood of him absconding or destroying the evidence.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 had reasoned that Malla should not be kept in custody as he was in high risk of COVID-19 due to asthma and pointed that he had already helped investigation by staying in custody for around seven months.
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.
Devkota was declared dead on arrival at Neuro Hospital.