Wednesday, May 09, 2007

SC seeks military court verdict on Maina case
The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered Army Headquarters to furnish the "original" verdict of the military court on the Maina Sunwar case within seven days, a move that is likely to spark a jurisdiction controversy between the civilian court and the military court.

In the meantime, the police have recently issued an arrest warrant against former captains of the Nepali Army Amit Pun and Sunil Adhikari, two of the three army officers accused in the death of Maina Sunwar, a police source in Kavre told the Post over phone Tuesday. However, the source declined to divulge details on the matter.

A division bench of Justices Anup Raj Sharma and Ram Kumar Prasad Sah on Tuesday passed the order in response to a writ petition filed by Devi Sunwar, mother of Maina Sunwar.
Fifteen-year old Maina Sunwar "died" from torture inflicted during the course of interrogation by the army in Birendra Peace Operations Training Center at Panchkhal, Kavre district, in February 2004.

Maina's mother, with support from Advocacy Forum, moved the court with the writ petition after the police failed to take action against the guilty army officers involved in the "death" of her daughter in army custody.

She has sought the SC to pass an order to the concerned authorities to punish the culprits.
A military court in September 2005, had decided to punish Col. Babi Khatri and his subordinates; Captains Amit Pun and Sunil Adhikari for the "death" of Maina Sunwar following intense national and international pressure.

However, the army has kept the verdict secret to date. The army has not even cooperated with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in this regard.

But national and international human rights communities still maintain that the punishment handed down to the guilty was not commensurate with the gravity of the crime. Khatri is still in uniform while the other two accused have reportedly quit the army.

The SC order today is likely to erupt into yet another controversy over the jurisdiction of the civilian court and the military court. In 2004, army had questioned the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court when the latter sought a verdict of the Court of Inquiry, set up by the army, on the dismissal of then army Major Prajjwal Basnet.

At that time the court had withdrawn from the controversy by quashing the writ petition of Basnet, a missed opportunity to the court to demarcate the jurisdiction of the civilian court and the military court.

Similarly, the court also ordered the police to furnish details of its investigation on the death of Maina Sunwar, within seven days.

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