| May 19, 2019

Acting CJ’s bench rejects plea by CIAA head not to hear contempt case

KATHMANDU, June 12: The Supreme Court on Sunday rejected a plea from Lokman Singh Karki, chief commissioner of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), demanding that Acting Chief Justice Sushila Karki not conduct hearings at her bench in a contempt of court case brought against the CIAA chief.

CIAA chief Karki had submitted an application to the court arguing that the acting chief justice was a relative of his within the seven generation and that a provision on court management under the existing Civil Code prevents a judge from looking into cases involving such relatives.

CIAA chief Karki filed the application as a contempt of court case filed by Shanta Dixit, wife of journalist and Sajha Yatayat Chairman Kanak Mani Dixit was scheduled for hearings at the bench of Acting CJ Karki. Shanta Dixit had filed the contempt of court case against the CIAA and its chief, arguing that the arrest of her husband by the defendants was against a previous ruling of the Supreme Court that directed the anti-graft body to take a formal decision before calling in or arresting someone to record a statement or for starting investigations. 

Advocate Karunakar Mallik on Sunday presented Karki’s application at the bench along with the genealogy of the Lama Karkis and argued that the case should not be heard by Acting CJ Karki.

However, the single bench of Acting CJ Karki rejected the plea, stating that the provision in the Civil Code does not prohibit a judge from looking into cases of relatives within the seven generations but only into cases of relatives within the rights of inheritance. 

The bench also stated that the CIAA chief’s claim does not establish that his kinship with the Acting CJ falls within the rights of inheritance. Meanwhile, the bench stated that the contempt of court case was against the CIAA chief in his institutional capacity and no existing law or argument bars her from hearing cases against the CIAA or its officials in that capacity.

During the hearings, advocates from Dixit’s side argued that the application was filed with malafide intent and in order to defame the court itself. 

The bench also ordered the court administration to forward the contempt of court case to a bench along with the habeas corpus case filed by Shanta Dixit when her husband was detained by the CIAA.

Earlier on May 2, a division bench of Acting CJ Karki and Justice Jagadish Sharma Paudel had ordered the release of Dixit and scrapped the Special Court decision to remand him to 10 days in judicial custody. The division bench stated that the Special Court’s order to remand Dixit failed to mention the jurisdiction and the purpose of the investigation nor exercised due diligence to see whether the investigation was satisfactory or not. 

Dixit was arrested on April 22 on the charge of amassing property through illegal means.

Following the court order, some newspapers and news portals had carried reports that Acting CJ Karki and Shanta Dixit are related within the seven generation. However, the Supreme Court issued a press release refuting the news reports and terming them baseless.

A section of civil society has been claiming that the action of CIAA chief Karki was motivated by vengeance as Dixit had led street protests against Karki’s appointment to the constitutional body.