The Supreme Court of the nation has overturned President Ram Chandra Paudel’s decision to grant amnesty to Yograj Dhakal, also known as “Regal,” who was previously serving a life sentence for a murder conviction. The ruling was made by a bench consisting of Acting Chief Justice Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada, Justice Sapana Pradhan Malla, and Justice Kumar Chudal after a two-day hearing of arguments from both parties.
The court’s decision also includes an order for the immediate arrest of Regal, who had been granted amnesty by the President at the recommendation of the government. The full bench of the Supreme Court devoted significant time to deliberate on this matter throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, giving priority to Dhakal’s case.
The writ filed by the President against the amnesty decision alleged that the President had abused his constitutional powers by granting exemptions from imprisonment to individuals involved in heinous crimes for political considerations. Lawyers representing the writ petitioner argued vigorously against this presidential amnesty.
It’s important to note that the debate on both sides concluded on Wednesday, leading to the Supreme Court’s decision. Regal had been serving a prison sentence for the murder of Chetan Manandhar, a case that garnered public attention.
Chetan Manandhar’s wife, Bharati Manandhar Sherpa, filed a writ in the Supreme Court on October 9 to challenge the President’s decision to grant amnesty to her husband’s murderer. The victim, 29-year-old Chetan Manandhar, was attacked near Dhambozhi Chowk on July 23, 2015. Regal had been on the run following Manandhar’s death but later surrendered to the court after two months in September.
He was subsequently sent to jail pending trial. In April 2019, the District Court Banke convicted Regal in the murder of Manandhar, sentencing him to life imprisonment. The court also sentenced 12 other individuals, who were found to be involved in the murder, to prison terms ranging from 3 years to 10 years based on their level of involvement in the crime. Notably, Sohan Singh Dhakal, a member of Regal’s group, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Public sentiment against Regal’s release had been growing, with both opposition leaders and civil society activists expressing their strong disapproval of the murder convict’s amnesty and release. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the presidential amnesty has now quashed these concerns and sent a clear message about the rule of law and justice.