Government working on Republic Day pardon for Resham ChaudharyChaudhary has been serving life term after being convicted in the 2015 Tikapur massacre.
Tika R Pradhan
The government has asked the President’s Office to release Resham Lal Chaudhary, the jailed leader of the Nagarik Unmukti Party, through presidential pardon on Republic Day next week.
The government made the request on Wednesday.
Former lawmaker Chaudhary has been serving a life term at the Capital’s Dillibazar prison after being convicted of masterminding the 2015 Tikapur massacre.
It was only on May 16 that the Supreme Court convicted Chaudhary in the Tikapur massacre where seven security personnel and a toddler were killed.
Chaudhary’s spouse and lawmaker Ranjita Shrestha, who heads the party, is currently minister for Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation.
“A proposal seeking pardon for Resham Chaudhary landed at the President’s office yesterday. Officials are studying it,” said Baburam Kunwar, a legal adviser to the President. “After studying the proposal, it will be sent back to the home ministry, which will then forward it to the Cabinet for a decision.”
After receiving the opinion of the President’s Office, the ministry will present the proposal at the Cabinet meeting and that will be sent to Sheetal Niwas for presidential pardon along with other individuals who are on the list pardon recipients on the occasion of the Republic Day on May 29.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal called on President Ramchandra Paudel on Tuesday and discussed issues including pardon for Chaudhary and the citizenship bill.
“During his meeting, the prime minister had informed the President about the government’s proposal to grant presidential pardon to Resham Chaudhary,” said a member of the prime minister’s secretariat, asking not to be named. “The President was positive about the proposal.”
There have been a number of attempts by several governments to release Chaudhary, who won the 2017 election while still in hiding after being accused in the Tikapur incident.
In December last year, the government even brought an ordinance to release Chaudhary and other inmates jailed in the course of political agitations, but later decided to drop the idea.
Earlier the Nagarik Unmukti Party, which has four lawmakers in the House of Representatives, had refused to join both the provincial and federal governments putting Chaudhary’s release as a precondition, but the party later decided to join the government after top leaders of the ruling parties including the prime minister promised to release him by employing appropriate approaches.
After the Supreme Court on May 16 upheld the conviction of Chaudhary by the Dipayal High Court, Chaudhary said he respects the court’s decision.
Rejecting Resham’s plea for a clean chit, a division bench of Supreme Court justices Anand Mohan Bhattarai and Nahakul Sudedi concluded that he should face life imprisonment. Resham, along with ten others—who were convicted by the Kailali District Court on March 6, 2019, and by the Dipayal High Court on December 18, 2020—had moved the apex court.
Earlier on May 11, the government registered an amendment to the Muluki Criminal Code 2017 seeking to withdraw cases against Chaudhary and other leaders and cadres affiliated to CK Raut-led Janamat Party and Nepal Communist Party led by Netra Bikram Chand.
The government has registered a proposal to amend section 116(1) of the Criminal Code 2017 adding subsection (a) to facilitate the withdrawal of cases.
Seven police personnel, including a Senior Superintendent of Nepal Police, and a toddler were killed during violent protests in Tikapur on August 24, 2015 in the run-up to the promulgation of the constitution.
The Kailali District Court slapped a life sentence on Chaudhary identifying him as the main accused, and the verdict was later endorsed by the Dipayal High Court.
He surrendered before the Kailali district court in February 2018 and has been serving a life sentence at the Dillibazar prison.