President assured the human rights activists and lawyers that he would do the needful ‘to protect the constitution’

KATHMANDU: Human rights activists and lawyers today called on President Dr Ram Baran Yadav and advised him not to ‘accept’ the Cabinet decision recommending amnesty to Maoist lawmaker Balkrishna Dhungel who has been convicted of murder by the Supreme Court.

In a controversial move, the Cabinet yesterday had decided to send a recommendation to the President to invoke Article 151 of the constitution to grant pardon to Dhungel, provoking sharp criticism from human rights activists, lawyers and political parties.
A team of lawyers and human right activists, on the initiative of Democratic Lawyers’ Association, today told the President that the decision was in violation of the constitution, Comprehensive Peace Agreement and a peace deal signed on November 1.

The Office of the President, according to President Dr Yadav’s press adviser Rajendra Dahal, however, was yet to receive the decision formally. “He will act, and definitely act, but only after he gets the decision formally. For now, we cannot speculate what step he will take,” said Dahal.

Yadu Nath Khanal, president of DLA, told this daily that the President assured the human rights activists and lawyers that he would do the needful ‘to protect the constitution’ in capacity of the guardian of the main law of the land. “The President told us he would hold consultations and assured us that he would not let injustice prevail and would never go against the constitution.”

During the meeting, Khanal also suggested that the Head of the State should consult senior lawyers and must not hesitate to seek advice from the Supreme Court, as the government had seriously undermined the apex court verdict that slapped a 20-year jail term to Dhungel for murdering Ujjan Kumar Shrestha of Okhandhunga on November 11, 1998. Former member of the NHRC Sudip Pathak urged the President to protect the transitional justice as Heads of the State world over have been doing so to safeguard the constitution.

Nepal Bar Association President Prem Bahadur Khadka took strong exception to the activities of Parliament authorities, saying they did not bothered to act even when a murder convict was regularly attending the House.

Lawyers wondered why Speaker Subas Nembang allowed Dhungel to attend Parliament despite knowing that the apex court verdict was sufficient to invalidate his parliamentary membership.
Hearing postponed
KATHMANDU: The Supreme Court on Wednesday postponed the hearing on the writ petition filed by the family of Ujjan Kumar Shrestha, who was killed by Maoist lawmaker Balkrishna Dhungel. Sabitri Shrestha, sister of deceased Shrestha had filed a writ petition at SC demanding execution of the one-year-old apex court verdict that had slapped a 20-year jail term to Dhungel for murdering Shrestha back in 1998. A division bench of Justices Prem Sharma and Bharat Bahadur Karki put of off the hearing following the demand from Dhungel’s lawyers.

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