KATHMANDU, Jan 29: Appearing in person before the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai claimed that he did not do anything in his capacity as chief executive regarding the case of murder of Dailekh-based journalist Dekendra Thapa that amounted to contempt of court.
Responding to an apex court order to furnish clarifications on a charge of contempt of court, the prime minister termed the case filed against him as ´false, baseless and fictitious´.
The SC on January 19 ordered Bhattarai and Attorney General Mukti Pradhan to present themselves in person before the court within seven days to furnish clarifications on a charge of contempt of court. Pradhan furnished his clarifications on Sunday.
"I urge [the SC] to scrap the case filed against the head of the executive branch on baseless grounds and without any reason as it was a false accusation and useless and meaningless prima facie," said Bhattarai in his written clarification.
The prime minister has claimed that he neither instructed anyone to halt ongoing investigations into Thapa´s murder nor made any statement aimed at affecting ongoing investigations into the case.
Bhattarai has argued that the case filed against him should be scraped as it was not relevant, appropriate or justifiable in any way, claiming further that he has been accused of affecting a sub judice case about which he did not have any knowledge before the SC´s interim order of January 15.
Advocate Kamal Prasad Itani of Nepal Democratic Lawyers´ Association and Secretary of Nepal Press Union Santosh Neupane moved the SC on January 13, accusing the prime minister and the attorney general of holding the court in contempt.
The prime minister has said his statement that cases related to the insurgency period do not fall under the jurisdiction of the regular criminal justice system and should rather be overseen through a transitional justice mechanism in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) does not hold the court in contempt.
"To say such a statement holds the court in contempt is against all accepted principles of contempt of court," argued Bhattarai. He also said that the provisions and letter and spirit of the CPA should be kept in mind while interpreting the Interim Constitution.
Bhattarai has maintained that the practice of setting up a transitional justice mechanism in order to maintain peace and deliver justice is to be found in various countries that have witnessed armed conflict. "Formation of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions is found to have taken place in 25 countries since 1974 to date," stated the prime minister in his clarification.
Meanwhile, Bhattarai has filed an application urging the apex court to allow him to authorize someone else to deal with the case on his behalf from now on. The prime minister said that he would not be able to present himself in person before the court time and again as he would be busy in his capacity as head of government.