Wednesday, September 19, 2007

SC makes public verdict on Maina’s case

The Supreme Court made public the two-year-old Military Court’s verdict on the Maina Sunuwar case. The move came as per the decision by the SC’s division bench comprising justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Ram Prasad Shrestha to make public the Military Court’s verdict which was sealed as a secret document.The court, referring to a provision of the Right to Information Act 2007 for the first time, established that the people have right to access to such a document and there was no need to keep secret the text of the verdict.The bench also directed the government to investigate into the rationality of Maina’s mother Devi Sunuwar’s demand to prosecute Maina’s case in the civil court and submit a report in three months. Responding to a writ petition filed by Devi Sunuwar, the court said the SC Registrar’s order to keep secret the document was illegal.The Military Court chaired by Major General Kiran Sumsher Thapa had convicted three army officials — Colonel Babi Khatri, Lt Cols Sunil Prasad Adhikary and Amit Pun — of negligence during Maina Sunuwar’s interrogation after her arrest. Sunuwar was arrested on February 17, 2004 from her house at Kharelthok, Kavre, and was taken to an army barrack at Panchkhal. “Maina was not killed while being transported from the place of her arrest to the army barrack. She died due to her physical and mental situation during the questioning after being arrested,” the Military Court verdict stated.Maina died at the ground in front of the Panchkhal barrack on February 17 in the afternoon due to sheer negligence shown by the army personnel regarding her health. “The army officials concentrated only on recording her statement,” the verdict said, adding the cause of Maina’s death could not be determined because a post-mortem was not performed. “Maina died due to her poor health. She started vomiting after taking a meal and the army officials did not do anything to help her get well”.

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