Panel formed to probe leaked judge-lawyer audio in which they are discussing moneyDistrict Judge Raj Kumar Koirala and lawyer Rudra Pokhrel are heard discussing ways to release Ichcha Raj Tamang accused of embezzling public money.
A three-member probe committee has been formed to investigate an audio recording between a Kathmandu District Court judge and a lawyer in which they are heard discussing a monetary deal to release Ichcha Raj Tamang, a businessman who is in jail.
A meeting of the Judicial Council on Wednesday decided to form the probe committee led by Ram Prasad Shrestha, a member of the Council. High Court judges Mahesh Sharma and Mahesh Pudasaini are the members of the investigation panel.
News24 TV on Tuesday evening aired a 10-minute audio recording between judge Raj Kumar Koirala and lawyer Rudra Pokharel, in which they are heard discussing a deal to release Tamang.
“A three member investigation team has been formed. It will dig out the reality,” Law Minister Govinda Sharma Bandi, who is also a member of the Council, told the Post. “The accused will not be assigned any cases until the probe report is out.”
He said the audio recording seems to be from the time when the hearing was being conducted on Tamang and other accused last year.
The Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police had in October last year arrested Tamang, founding chairperson of Civil Cooperatives, after several complaints about embezzlement of deposits at the cooperatives registered with the police.
After an investigation for 60 days, the CIB, in December last year, filed the case at Kathmandu District Court against Tamang, who is also a former lawmaker, along with 41 others associated with the cooperative, on charges of embezzling public money worth Rs5.59 billion.
After the audio was leaked, Acting Chief Justice Deepak Kumar Karki had called a meeting of the Judicial Council for Wednesday afternoon.
In the audio, the lawyer and the judge are heard discussing Rs20 million for them if Tamang can be released at a bail amount of Rs100 million.
Judge Koirala appears to be giving the consent, while he seeks assurance from lawyer Pokhrel if there would be the green signal from “higher-ups.”
Pokhrel then assures that he would “fix” everything up from the chief justice to the “No. 1” judge of Kathmandu District Court.
Cholendra Shumsher Rana, who remains suspended since February this year after an impeachment motion was filed against him, was the chief justice at that time. The “No. 1” judge Koirala and Pokhrel are referring to is Raj Kumar Khatiwada.