Nepal Bar Association accuses CIAA of piling pressure on courts over low conviction rateCIAA had said it has appealed before the apex court in record numbers due to the low conviction rate in corruption cases filed at the Special Court.
The Nepal Bar Association (NBA) has accused the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) of piling pressure on courts to deliver a verdict in its favour over the low conviction rate in graft cases.
Holding a press meet on Thursday, the umbrella organization of legal practitioners in Nepal, accused the CIAA of organizing a press meet with an intention of pressuring the court, without considering its own jurisdiction.
“A meeting of NBA central executive committee and office-bearers of Valley Bar Association held on Thursday concluded that the commission delivered a blow to judicial independence by sending out messages of ‘judicial deviation, misinterpretation of the law and incompetence’ in courts,” reads the statement issued by Hark Bahadur Rawal, NBA acting president.
The association is of the opinion that even if everyone is of one mind on corruption control, the constitutional body should not be presented in a language and style that could cast doubt on the impartiality and competence of the judiciary.
“Nepal Bar Association draws the attention of the responsible bodies and officials of the state to strictly follow the rule of law and not to make such statements as to harm the independence of the court,” reads the statement by an umbrella organization of legal practitioners.
In a press meet on Tuesday, the anti-graft body said it had appealed before Supreme Court in record numbers due to the low conviction rate in corruption cases filed at the Special Court.
CIAA had said it had appealed to the court in 122 cases since the start of the current fiscal year in mid-July, which is more than double the appeals it filed in the whole of the fiscal year 2021-22. The commission had filed appeals in 57 cases against the Special Court’s verdict in the last fiscal year. It had appealed in 58 cases in fiscal 2020-21.
“The Special Court gave a clean chit to the defendants in most of the corruption cases related to sting operations based on the Supreme Court verdict that the evidence collected by handing out cash cannot be established as evidence,” Shyam Prasad Bhandari, spokesperson of the anti-graft body had told journalists. “But our claim while registering appeals at the Supreme Court is that the court should also consider other evidence such as telephone records, CDs and proof collected from independent sources.”
The Supreme Court prohibited the anti-graft body from conducting sting operations in April 2021, ruling that such actions violate the criminal justice principle, the constitution, and the law.
Since the Supreme Court barred sting operations, the rate of conviction by the Supreme Court slumped sharply. It is because the defendants used to be caught red-handed with cash which proves to be strong evidence while collecting the proof in other cases is complicated.
In the last fiscal year, the conviction rate was 38.51 percent compared to 71.68 percent in the previous fiscal 2020-21.