HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai today told the apex court that dealing with war-era cases under regular justice system would be against the spirit of the Interim Constitution and Comprehensive Peace Agreement and that ‘expressing that view should not be viewed as contempt of court’.
Bhattarai’s explanation to the Supreme Court comes just as apex court’s order to district authorities to continue prosecution of murder accused of journalist Dekendra Thapa stands valid.
Prime Minister Bhattarai attended the apex court today in response to the apex court summons on January 18 in which he and Attorney General Mukti Narayan Pradhan were asked to appear in court in person to face the contempt charge levelled against them by advocate Kamal Prasad Itani and journalist Santosh Neupane.
Bhattarai also demanded that he be allowed to appoint his legal representative to save him from appearing in court. AG Prdhan attended the court yesterday and said he did not have any intention to disrespect SC and that he had only talked about prosecuting war-time cases through transitional justice mechanism(s).
Stating that the (contempt) case was filed with a malafide intention to bring the head of the government in controversy, PM Bhattarai demanded that the bench quash the petition and said ‘there is no need for the Supreme Court to intervene’. “As per the constitutional provision(s) the government has already forwarded an ordinance on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to the President,” said Bhattarai. “The President did not approve the ordinance and that’s why there is no mechanism to deal with war-time cases. But it is baseless to accuse the government of promoting impunity and not performing its constitutional duty.” He also said the government had done nothing against the stay order so there was no need to punish him on contempt charge. He stated that he did publicly call for the formation of transitional justice mechanisms to deal with war-era cases but claimed that he did not issue any order to obstruct the investigation into murder of journalist Thapa.
“The writ filed at Surkhet Appellate Court by Laxmi Thapa, wife of slain journalist Dekendra Thapa, was not in my knowledge, so it is not logical to punish the head of the government on contempt charge,” Bhattarai added. “I came to know about the case when a writ petition was filed at the apex court and after the order was issued on January 15, so it is a baseless allegation that I intervened in the matter.”
A case of two weeks
• Jan 11: Attorney general issues an order in writing to Dailekh district police and district attorney to halt interrogation of murder accused of journalist Dekendra Thapa
• Jan 13: Advocate Govinda Sharma Bandi moves the apex court challenging the AG order
• Jan 15: Justice Kalyan Shrestha issues a stay order directing the prime minister and attorney general not to obstruct justice process
• Jan 18: Justice Sushila Karki summons prime minister and attorney general to appear in court in person to face contempt charge
• Jan 27: Attorney general tells the apex court that criminal justice system does not have the jurisdiction on war-era cases
• Jan 28: Prime minister demands that the apex court quash the (contempt) case against him