The Judicial Council (JC) has decided to take action against eight justices including chief justice of the Biratnagar High Court Kul Ratna Bhurtel who gave different orders on those accused of smuggling 33 kilograms of gold and murder of Sanam Shakya.
The council has decided action ranging from simply drawing attention to additional punishment but the members have yet to sign on the minute. The justices were not given any duty and summoned to the council six months ago following complaints that they gave orders favorable for the accused going against the laws.
The council meeting on Tuesday has decided to take additional action against justices Thir Bahadur Karki and Umesh Singh but what such additional punishment will be has yet to be decided.
“Decision has been taken to just seek explanation from them now and set the punishment later as the offense is serious,” a council source stated.
The council’s decision states that attention of Bhurtel, Janak Pandey and Saranga Subedi will be drawn while Sadhu Ram Sapkota will be asked why he should not be cautioned. The council, however, has given clean chit to Umesh Paudyal and Nagendra Lal Karna who retired while they were kept away from duty.
The council had initiated investigation after the accused who were sent to judicial custody by the Morang District Court were released on bail and date by the High Court. The justices were accused of hearing applications by those accused in the same case separately instead of hearing all those applications together.
A surveillance committee formed immediately after Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana assumed office had inspected Biratnagar High Court. The committee had submitted its report to the council stating that irregularities were found in handling the cases of those accused in smuggling of 33 kilograms of gold and murder of Shakya.
The council then summoned all the justices who saw the applications of the accused and chief justice Bhurtel who set up the benches.
The issue of 33 kilograms of gold smuggled through the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on January 23, 2018 came to the fore after the body of Shakya of Urlabari, who died while being tortured on charge of stealing that gold, was recovered in Biratnagar on March 2 last year.