Panel probing charges against Sharma opens police report on CCTV, fails to decipher itMembers say experts involved in investigating the hard drive have been invited at 4pm to shed light on the findings.
The parliamentary committee probing into Janardan Sharma’s alleged last-minute tax tweaking in the budget through two outsiders has decided to invite forensic experts of the Nepal Police to discuss the report on the Finance Ministry CCTV hard drive the law enforcement agency submitted on Monday.
The committee had handed over the hard drive to police to investigate if the footage of the May 28 night had been deleted and if the data could be retrieved if it had been deleted.
“We have invited the experts involved in investigating the hard drive at 4pm today (Tuesday) to discuss the report,” said Surendra Aryal, secretary of the probe panel.
The police, according to members, have provided multiple video clips that have been retrieved.
“We watched all the video clips but could not make out anything of those. Therefore, we have decided to ask the experts to shed light on the clips,” said Khagaraj Adhikari, a member of the panel representing the CPN-UML. “It seems that the footage itself has been twisted.”
In those clips, said Adhikari, outsiders entering the Finance Ministry cannot be seen.
Surendra Kumar Yadav of Janata Samajbadi Party, another member of the committee, said they were provided some 52 video clips of around one minute each of May 28 and 29.
He said the police have also submitted a written report along with the clips with all the technical details saying 3,496 clips that were retrieved could not be viewed properly.
“They have sent 128 megabytes of clips,” Yadav told the Post. “It’s confusing.”
After the Finance Ministry failed to provide the footage of the night of May 28 saying the hard drive could store data of only 13 days. The ministry then provided the hard drive to the committee.
The committee had sought police help to retrieve the data from May 28 noon to May 29 noon.
The probe committee was formed on July 6 following which Sharma had resigned as finance minister. The committee was given 10 days but it started work on July 12. After the 10 days of time given to it expired on July 21, it was given seven more days.
The committee so far has questioned Sharma as well as Madhu Marasini and Krishna Hari Pushkar, finance and revenue secretaries, respectively. All of them have denied charges that outsiders were involved in tweaking the tax rates on the night of May 28. Sharma presented the budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 in Parliament on May 29.
The committee, formed after the main opposition CPN-UML constantly demanded a parliamentary probe into allegations against Sharma, has four members from the UML and two each from the Nepali Congress and the CPN (Maoist Centre). From the CPN (Unified Socialist), the Janata Samajbadi Party and the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party, there is one member each.
The members of the committee are Adhikari, Pradeep Gyawali, Bhanubhakta Dhakal and Bimala BK from the UML; Dev Gurung and Shakti Basnet from the Maoist Centre; Man Bahadur Bishwarkarma and Sitaram Yadav representing the Congress; Sarala Kumari Yadav from the Unified Socialist; Laxman Lal Karna from the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party; and Surendra Yadav from the Janata Samajbadi Party.