Maintain status quo, orders apex courtThe Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday ordered to maintain status quo on a corruption case filed against three members of the Tax Settlement Commission (TSC) at the Special Court, saying that a writ challenging the arrest of Chudamani Sharma, one of the accused, needs to be settled by a full bench.
The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday ordered to maintain status quo on a corruption case filed against three members of the Tax Settlement Commission (TSC) at the Special Court, saying that a writ challenging the arrest of Chudamani Sharma, one of the accused, needs to be settled by a full bench.
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Sunday filed a Rs 10.2-billion graft case against Sharma, TSC chairman Lumba Dhwoj Mahat and member Umesh Dhakal, charging them with embezzling revenue and granting tax exemption to various enterprises in a dubious way.
The apex court on Wednesday was hearing a writ of habeas corpus filed by Sharma’s wife, who has not only challenged the CIAA’s move of arresting Sharma but also has demanded a court order not to proceed the corruption case against him.
While deciding to take the writ of habeas corpus to the full bench, a joint bench of Justices Cholendra Shumsher Rana and Prakash Man Singh Raut ordered to maintain status quo on the graft case until the final judgment.
This, however, does not mean Sharma has to be released, according to SC officials, who said Sharma will continue to be in the CIAA’s custody until the full bench passes a final judgment on the habeas corpus writ.
SC Spokesperson Mahendra Nath Upadhyay said the bench observed that it would be appropriate to take the writ to the full bench as serious legal questions have arisen in relation to the TSC as to whether it is a judicial agency, a quasi-judicial agency or an administrative agency and whether the CIAA has the jurisdiction to investigate into TSC’s work.
The TSC was formed in 2015 by then Sushil Koirala government.
But an Office of the Auditor General (OAG) report in April called into question the Rs 21 billion tax exemption granted by the TSC to various enterprises.
The CIAA on June 2 arrested TSC member Sharma, who stands suspended as the director general of the Inland Revenue Department. Mahat and Dhakal are at large and the CIAA has issued an arrest warrant against them.
“Until the full bench gives its verdict on the writ of habeas corpus, further process on the corruption case needs to be put on halt,” said Upadhyay.
Even though the graft case was filed on Sunday, Sharma is yet to stand trial, as the Special Court has not been able to start proceedings due to the pending habeas corpus case in the Supreme Court.
Special Court Spokesperson Jagannath Poudel said the CIAA did not present Sharma at the Special Court on Wednesday after the apex court order.
- Feb ’15: Sushil Koirala-led govt forms Tax Settlement Commission (TSC)
- April 13, ’17: OAG report questions tax settlement by TSC
- June 2: CIAA arrests Chudamani Sharma; he stands suspended as the director general of Inland Revenue Department
- June 22: CIAA issues public notice for the arrest of TSC Chairman LD Mahat and member Umesh Dhakal
- July 11: Sharma’s wife files writ of habeas corpus demanding release of Sharma
- July 16: CIAA files Rs 10.2 billion graft case against Sharma, LD Mahat and Umesh Dhakal
- July 19: SC orders to maintain status quo until the full bench finalises Sharma’s habeas corpus writ