Ward chairman of Dupcheshwore-1, in Nuwakot Sun Bahadur Tamang, sentenced by the Nuwakot District Court for 37 years on charge of trafficking women, has been acquitted by the Patan High Court.
A bench of Justices Ramesh Bahadur Thapa and Hari Pratap KC on Monday overturned the district court verdict of March 19, 2018 and gave clean chit to Tamang.
Women, who had been trafficked to India, had filed case against Tamang and three others four years ago.
He was in the jail for the fourth case about trafficking of women after being released on bail in two cases about trafficking and through habeas corpus by the Supreme Court (SC) in the other.
Tamang faced the first trafficking case in 1994. The Nuwakot District Court sentenced him for six years in that case. But he did not go to jail and the police kept him in the wanted list instead.
He continued to do politics for Nepali Congress (NC) in his village in a carefree manner despite being in the wanted list of police. He was elected ward chairman in the local election held in 2017.
The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police in January 2018 arrested Tamang from the ward office in January after three women, who were sold by Tamang, lodged a complaint on return from India.
The CIB lodged two cases against Tamang at the Kathmandu District Court after that. The court on January 19 released him on bail in both the cases against the norm of not granting bail to those accused in such grave cases.
A bench of district judge Kavi Prasad Neupane ordered to release him on bail of Rs 500,000 in one case and Rs 300,000 in the other based on statement of Tamang that he does not recognize the complainants and he is innocent.
Tamang was arrested from Sundahra shortly after being released.
The Nuwakot District Court in 2011 had sentenced him for six years in the first trafficking case against him. The CIB arrested him in course of implementation of that verdict and sent him to the Central Jail.
But Tamang got a habeas corpus petition filed at the SC claiming that he is not the Sun Bahadur Tamang found guilty by the court arguing that the address of the person who was found guilty and his are different.
Five different SC justices heard that petition on different occasions, and sought documents and records about Sun Bahadur Tamang.
The Nuwakot District Court and the charge sheet mention Ghyangfedi-6 as Sun Bahadur Tamang’s address while his citizenship certificate shows it to be Ghyangfedi-4.
A joint bench of Justices Sharada Prasad Ghimire and Sapana Malla Pradhan summoned the two female complainants to the court on February 27, 2018 to identify him. The Office of the Attorney General then wrote to Nuwakot Police for the same. But the Nuwakot Police wrote to the SC that the two women could not be found in Nuwakot. “We report that they have gone to Kathmandu when we asked in the village,” the police letter sent to the SC states.
A joint bench of Justices Om Prakash Mishra and Purushottam Bhandari on April 20, 2018 ordered his release stating that Sun Bahadur Tamang who was found guilty of trafficking women by the court and him are not the same person.
The habeas corpus petition had named CIB as the defendant for arresting him. But the SC did not summon the witness of CIB that identified him despite the CIB in its written response to the SC claiming that he was arrested only after confirming that he was the Sun Bahadur Tamang who was found guilty by the court. The CIB had written so on January 29 mentioning the name of the witness who had identified him.
The joint bench of Ghimire and Malla had summoned the complainants a month after the CIB sent that response. But the bench did not summon other witnesses, not even the witness of CIB.
Tamang was released after the court verdict.
The CIB again arrested him shortly after his release, this time to implement another court verdict.
The Nuwakot District Court on March 19, 2018, while he was still in jail, had sentenced him for 37 years on a case about trafficking of women.
CIB sources claim that he has capitalized on the old system wherein the police would not trace the actual address of the accused.