The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that murder convict Balkrishna Dhungel, a UCPN (Maoist) leader, cannot be granted clemency and reiterated its previous order issued in 2010 to imprison him.
The former Maoist lawmaker was found guilty of killing Ujjan Kumar Shrestha of Okhaldhunga in 1998.
The constitutional bench comprising Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha and Justices Sushila Karki, Baidhyanath Upadhyay, Gopal Parajuli and Om Prakash Mishra on Thursday issued a mandamus order in the name of the Office of the President and the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers not to grant amnesty to the murder convict, citing lack of law for pardon as provisioned by the new constitution.
The bench has noted that Dhungel never surrendered as per the SC order and that the process to implement the verdict was never carried out.
The Baburam Bhattarai-led government in 2011 had forwarded Dhungel’s name for presidential clemency.
Ujjan’s sister Sabitri had moved the apex court, seeking annulment of the then government’s decision.
Okhaldhunga District Court in 2004 had convicted Dhungel of murder and ordered life term for Dhungel, but in 2006, Rajbiraj Appellate Court gave him a clean chit.
He was elected lawmaker in 2008 Constituent Assembly elections.
But in 2010, the apex court overturned Rajbiraj Appellate Court’s decision and upheld Okhaldhunga District Court’s verdict that Dhungel should get life term.
Despite the SC order, Dhungel never went to jail and continued to walk free, as his party protected him, saying the Ujjan Shrestha murder case was a political case and that it should be dealt with by a transitional justice body.
Documents, however, had showed that the murder was committed out of personal vendetta.
After Thursday’s order, Ujjan’s sister Sabitri said, “It has rekindled our hope for justice. I hope this is the final legal battle I have to fight against the perpetrator, who is being protected by political class.”
According to her lawyer Om Prakash Aryal, Dhungel will not get a chance for another appeal.
“We have a precedent that the verdict of a five-member bench is the ultimate verdict, against which no appeal can be made,” he said.
Sabitri said the verdict has but increased her faith in judicial system. However, she added that she was still sceptical about implementation of the court order.
– June 24, ’98: Maoist leader Balkrishna Dhungel and others murder Ujjan Kumar Shrestha of Okhaldhunga
– May 10, ’04: Okhaldhunga District Court convicts Dhungel and eight others of Shrestha’s murder
– ’06: Rajbiraj Appellate Court gives Dhungel clean chit, and he walks out after serving a brief jail term
– Jan 3, ’10: The Supreme Court upholds verdict of Okhaldhunga District Court and orders to send Dhungel back to jail
– Nov ’11: The Baburam Bhattarai-led government recommends Dhungel for presidential clemency
– Jan 7, ’15: The Supreme Court rules against Bhattarai government’s recommendation for clemency