Attorney’s office file a court case against former government secretary Upadhyaya for cyber crimeUpadhyaya was arrested for his critical comments against the Oli government on his social media.
The District Attorney’s Office in Kathmandu filed a case at the District Court on Sunday against former government secretary Bhim Upadhyaya for cyber crime after he was accused of defaming the KP Sharma Oli government and its ministers through his social media posts.
A team from the Central Cyber Bureau of Nepal Police had arrested Upadhyaya from his Lalitpur home on Wednesday.
SSP Nabinda Aryal, chief of the bureau, told the Post that Upadhyaya was taken into custody following numerous anonymous complaints against him.
“His offence falls under the purview of the Electronic Transaction Act and we have proceeded with the case accordingly,” Aryal said.
The bureau had prepared a case against Upadhyaya, which included his social media posts that criticised the incumbent government and the ministers, and submitted to the District Attorney’s Office.
Based on the bureau’s report, the attorney’s office has sued Upadhyaya for a cyber crime at the District Court, prescribing five years prison term, Ananda Shrestha, the court registrar, told the Post.
The case against Upadhyaya comes barely two weeks after the bureau arrested Tara Nachiring from his rented room in Budhanilkantha, Kathmandu, for using the photos of political leaders, including Prime Minister Oli, to troll people on Facebook.
Nachiring, who hails from Khotang district, was also charged under the Electronic Transaction Act.
The arrests of Upadhyaya and Nachiring are nothing new under the Oli administration, which has been actively suppressing online dissent and people’s right to free speech.
After coming into power, the Oli government has introduced and amended a series of legislations, including the Criminal and Civil Code, many of which affords sweeping powers to the state to arrest and prosecute citizens and journalists.
Rapper Samir Ghising, popularly known as Vten, singer Durgesh Thap and comedian Pranesh Gautam are some of the few names who in the past have had run-ins with the authorities for expressing themselves.
Advocate Baburam Aryal, who specialises in cyber law, says the state and the law enforcement agency have been invoking these vaguely worded, draconian laws, to arrest the citizens.
“The law enforcement agency has been using the cyber crime law as per their whim. Upadhyaya was not given any specific reason when the authorities arrested him. He wasn’t told what his crime was,” Aryal told the Post. “ Had the police explained to him what his crime was, be it defamation, hate speech or fomenting dissent disharmony, then one could say his arrest was justified. But no, he is being held in custody for violating the Electronic Transaction Act”
Charan Prasain, a human rights activist, says freedom of expression is part of basic human rights and the state cannot put censorship on public opinion.
“By arresting Upadhyaya, the government is essentially threatening the public at large who want to share their thoughts and opinions,” said Prasain.
Upadhyaya’s arrest has also stirred a debate on social media.
Many have criticised the government for misusing the law to squelch people’s freedom of speech and expression while some have argued for a limit when it comes exercising one’s right to free speech.