Krishna Bahadur Mahara remanded in custody over attempted rape allegationsThe former House Speaker will have to stay in custody until the court passes the final decision.
The Kathmandu District Court on Monday remanded Krishna Bahadur Mahara, former House Speaker, in custody over attempted rape charges.
After Monday’s detention hearing, Chief Judge Sudarshan Raj Pandey decided to remand Mahara in custody, as the hearing on the case continues.
“Mahara was sent to Dillibazar prison after the court decided to remand him in custody,” Gyan Bahadur Karki, an information officer at the Kathmandu District Court, told the Post.
Mahara was arrested on October 6, two days after a woman who works at the Parliament Secretariat lodged a complaint with the police, accusing Mahara of attempted rape on September 29.
Police filed a charge sheet against Mahara on October 31, demanding five to seven-and-a-half years in jail.
Four days after his arrest, Mahara was shifted to Norvic Hospital after he complained of chest pains. Since then, Mahara had been defending his case from the hospital, with a defence team of nearly 30 lawyers, including former attorney general Raman Kumar Shrestha.
But on Monday, Mahara was taken directly to Dillibazaar prison after the court remanded him in custody, according to Karki.
“Mahara will have to stay in Dillibazaar prison until the final decision, unless he demands medical observation,” said Karki.
Mahara is the first high-profile politician to go to trial for rape allegations. Although Mahara stepped down as House Speaker after the allegations became public, he has not resigned as a Member of Parliament.
In the initial days since the allegations emerged via an online portal, the case has taken various turns, as the accuser in an interview with another online portal retracted her earlier statements, prompting confusion among law enforcement officials.
It was only after the woman visited the Baneshwor police station and filed a formal complaint that the police acted.
But police so far have not been able to conduct a DNA test on Mahara, as he has refused to give blood, and doctors attending to him have said that his blood cannot be withdrawn at the moment given his health condition.
Mahara, in his statement to the court on Friday, denied ever entering the woman’s apartment.
“After studying preliminary evidence, including the first information report of the accuser, her health report and details of the incident, including the video, the court cannot say that Mahara has not committed the crime,” said Ananda Prasad Shrestha, a bench officer at the Kathmandu District Court. “Therefore, the court decided to remand him in custody in Dillibazar prison.”
Asked about the chances of Mahara going back to the hospital again, Shrestha said, “That’s the Dillibazar prison management’s prerogative.”
According to Clause 73 of the Criminal Procedure Code 2074, Mahara can appeal at the High Court, challenging the district court’s decision.
“If Mahara decides to go the High Court and if it too refuses to release him, he will have to wait for the final hearing at the district court,” said district attorney Umakanta Poudel. “We have urged the court for a continued hearing, citing the gravity of the offence.”
The district court should deal with serious cases, including those related to rape and domestic violence, at the earliest through a continued hearing, said Poudel.