Top court quashes interim order to let Sumargi withdraw frozen moneyThe Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed an earlier interim order to allow the Ajeya Raj Sumargi-owned Muktishree Cement Industry to withdraw money frozen at the Nepal Rastra Bank despite his failure to disclose its sources.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed an earlier interim order to allow the Ajeya Raj Sumargi-owned Muktishree Cement Industry to withdraw money frozen at the Nepal Rastra Bank despite his failure to disclose its sources.
A single bench of Justice Deepak Raj Joshee on December 25 issued the interim order, asking the central bank to allow Muktishree to withdraw the amount transferred into its bank account from foreign countries.
But quashing of the earlier decision on Tuesday has created some confusion as Sumargi has already withdrawn the money, amounting to Rs840 million ($7.5 million), remitted to the company’s bank account as foreign investment. The central bank had earlier frozen the money saying that sources of the amount had not been disclosed.
Bhisma Raj Dhungana, chief of the Foreign Exchange Management Department of the NRB, confirmed that Sumargi withdrew the money from Nepal Investment Bank Limited last week.
“Now with Tuesday’s court’s decision, the Nepal Invest-ment Bank Limited should ask Sumargi to re-deposit the withdrawn amount,” Dhungana said.
A division bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana and Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai on Tuesday decided to quash the interim order issued by Justice Joshee. Advocate Bhimarjun Acharya said the government and the NRB should take initiatives to retrieve the amount that has already been withdrawn.
“If [such] a decision is made in good faith in normal situations, there is a general principle that the accomplished task is acceptable, but when it is connected with the state and seemingly ill-intentioned, the action of withdrawing the amount following an interim order, which now has been quashed, loses legal ground,” said Acharya, adding that initiatives must be taken immediately to recover the withdrawn money.
Legal experts have expressed their dismay at the turn of events. They were of the view that there was no need for hearing on Tuesday when the money had already been taken out of the bank following the interim order.
They also claimed that Joshee’s decision was either influenced by the state mechanism or politicians and was ill-intentioned.
Nepal Bar Association Chairman Sher Bahadur KC said it’s now up to the government to implement Tuesday’s court decision.
Justice Joshee had issued an interlocutory interim order, directing the central bank to release the money from the company’s account “as and when it wants” until next hearing—which was due for Tuesday.
The December 25 interim order was issued in response to a writ petition lodged by Lok Bahadur Adhikari on behalf of the Muktishree.