ANANTA RAJ LUITEL
KATHMANDU: The Supreme Court on Tuesday revoked the Special Court's five-year-old decision to acquit former minister and Nepali Congress leader Khum Bahadur Khadka and convicted him of graft. It slapped a jail term of 18 months and penalty of Rs. 9.4 million along with the confiscation of property equivalent to the same amount.
Issuing the final verdict in the case that had been pending in the apex court for the last five years, a division bench of Justices Kalyan Shrestha and Baidhya Nath Upadhyay ruled that Khadka’s property and lifestyle was not on a par with his legitimate sources of income.
The apex court concluded that the 2007 verdict that acquitted him was erroneous.
Following the verdict, Khadka’s supporters staged a protest in the areas adjoining to the SC.
Taking into consideration the potential protest, the security had been beefed up in the SC premises and adjoining areas before the pronouncement of the verdict.
His supporters, however, vandalised some vehicles after Khadka was convicted.
Khadka faced the charge of accumulating property worth Rs 23.6 million disproportionate to his legitimate sources of income by misusing the power of minister several times after 1990.
Justices Shrestha and Upadhayay had been examining the Special Court verdict that acquitted Khadka in 2007. Challenging the decision, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.
Stating that his assets amounting to Rs 1.2 million could not be justified by legitimate sources, but as it was not more than 10 per cent of his total legitimate income, the Special Court had acquitted him.
A panel of judges comprising Bhoopdhoj Adhikary, Komal Nath Sharma and Cholendra SJB Rana had acquitted Khadka citing a principle of acquittal even when the 10 per cent disproportionate property could not be justified through legitimate sources of income, but said convicting him for an amount less than ten percent disproportionate property would be unjustifiable.
The Supreme Court had convicted former minister JP Gupta overturning a similar verdict of the Special Court related to having less than 10 percent amount of property disproportionate to his sources of income.