Mahara’s three days in judicial custody already over, but police are yet to file a chargesheetThe former House Speaker, who is facing rape charges, has been in hospital and refused to record his statement, citing health condition.
Tika R Pradhan
The police over the last four days failed to file a chargesheet against Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who was sent to judicial custody by Kathmandu District Court on Tuesday over rape charges.
Mahara was arrested on October 6, almost a week after a woman who works at the Parliament Secretariat in an interview with an online portal accused him of rape at her Tinkune apartment. He had stepped down as the House Speaker following the allegations.
Police arrested him after the woman lodged a complaint with police on October 4, charging him with attempt to rape. Mahara could not be produced to the court immediately as courts were closed for Dashain. The district court on Tuesday allowed police to keep him in custody for 13 days, and since he had already spent 10 days, further proceedings were expected to begin on Friday.
“As per my information, government attorney will file a chargesheet on Monday,” said one of the lawyers pleading on behalf of Mahara.
However, government attorney Umakanta Poudel said it was not certain when a chargesheet against Mahara will be filed, as his statement is yet to be recorded due to his stay at hospital.
“After we get the report from police on Sunday, we will demand an extension for Mahara’s judicial custody,” said Poudel. “We will also go through the doctor’s report.”
Mahara has refused to record his statement, citing his health condition.
Four days after his arrest, Mahara was taken to Norvic Hospital on October 10, and has since been treated for high blood pressure, blood sugar and respiratory problems.
The hospital said on Saturday he was moved to the coronary care unit after he complained of severe chest pain.
“We performed an angiogram on him,” said Dr JP Jaiswal, a senior consultant cardiologist at the hospital. “We found 20 to 30 percent blockage in his coronary arteries.”
Though Mahara stepped down as the House Speaker, he has not resigned from the post of Member of Parliament despite the ruling Nepal Communist Party’s call to do so.
Mahara is the first high profile politician to face rape allegations. Since the charges against him came into the public domain, there have been concerns over how this case moves forward, given the influential position he had in the party. The woman had even recanted the charges in an interview with another online portal. Many believed she could have done so under duress, but that had created confusion also among the police whose records have been poor when it comes to dealing with cases related to rape and violence against women. The Mahara case is a litmus test for the police as well as the ruling party and the government.
Days after rape allegations were made against Mahara, the international community had come up with a statement, drawing Nepal government’s attention to rising cases of violence against women.
The United Nations office and six foreign missions based in Kathmandu in a statement reminded the government of Nepal of its obligations under international laws to ensure access to justice for victims, stand for victims’ rights and send a zero-tolerance message to combat gender-based violence. They, however, stopped short of referring to Mahara by name in their statement.
The National Human Rights Commission too has formed a three-member committee to study and monitor the investigation into the charges.