The Attorney General’s Office has approached the Supreme Court saying that the order of the High Court to release the cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane, who is accused of raping a minor, on bail instead of being kept in custody is against the existing law and judicial principles.
The Attorney General’s Office claims that Lamichhane was released on seven grounds, and those grounds put forward by the High Court were not appropriate from legal and judicial perspectives. In the petition submitted to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, it has asked the Supreme Court to keep Lamichhane in custody until the final verdict of the case is out.
On January 12, a bench of judges Dhruva Ratna Nanda and Ramesh Dhakal of Patan High Court released Sandeep Lamichhane on a bail of Rs 2 million. But, the Attorney General’s Office argues the order is faulty based on the following seven reasons.
Reason 1: Can the offender be released even though there is enough proof of offence?
The Patan High Court, considering the allegations against Sandeep Lamichhane and the immediate evidence, accepted that he was guilty. As per that, he should be sentenced to over 10 years in prison as what he did was under the category of a heinous crime as per the National Criminal Procedure (Code) Act, 2017.
“There was enough proof to prove Lamichhane was guilty and that it was a heinous crime,” the petition submitted to the Supreme Court reads. “It was wrong for someone accused of a heinous crime to be released on bail. Based on the immediately obtained evidence, this decision is not rational as the law doesn’t allow for such things to happen.”
Reason 2: What is the basis for releasing Sandeep Lamichhane?
Although there is a clear provision in the law, the Patan High Court questioned why Sandeep Lamichhane was sent to judicial custody. Hence, the Attorney General’s Office has claimed he cannot be out of custody due to the much evidence found initially by police investigations.
According to the survivor’s medical examinations, she had bruises on her body and the hotel’s log sheet confirmed Lamichhane booked a room there. This, the Attorney General’s Office believes has enough evidence to not release Lamichhane on bail as it claims this decision was not in accordance with the law, hence the verdict made by the High Court should be voided.
Reason 3: Should the accused be released stating the survivor’s statement had been recorded?
The High Court ordered the release of Sandeep Lamichhane as the survivor’s statement had been recorded and the release of the accused will not affect the case.
The Attorney General’s Office has claimed that in such a case, the bail cannot be ordered under any pretext, including conditions stated by the high court, as the demand for the imprisonment of up to 12 years has been made for crimes of a heinous nature.
Government attorneys claim that it is wrong to decide whether to keep the accused in custody or to release them based on the recording of the survivor’s statement.
Reason 4: Can the accused be released on bail saying that there is no possibility of influencing the survivor?
The government lawyers have also questioned the High Court’s statement that Sandeep Lamichhane was released as he could not influence the survivor. Just because the statement of the survivor and the government witness has been recorded, it cannot be said that he cannot influence the survivor, the government attorneys argue.
Reason 5: Why was Sandeep Lamichhane released even though initial reports claim he is guilty?
The Attorney General’s Office has claimed the order to release Sandeep Lamichhane has violated the provisions of the National Criminal Procedure (Code) Act, 2017. According to the law, those who have been accused of crimes with a demand of sentences longer than three years and who are found guilty based on the evidence obtained immediately must be kept in custody and the case should proceed.
In Lamichhane’s case, a prison sentence of 10 to 12 years was demanded and even the immediate evidence was not in his favour.
Reason 6: Why was the court so generous in releasing Sandeep Lamichhane on bail?
The Attorney General’s Office has questioned why Sandeep Lamichhane was released based on international practice when Nepal’s laws clearly state he should still be in custody.
Government lawyers have accused the High Court order of ignoring the seriousness of the offence and failing to assess the impact that the order to release Lamichhane could have on society.
Reason 7: How will the case proceed by releasing the accused?
The Attorney General’s Office has asserted that the accused of a criminal case of this level of severity pending in the court should not be allowed to be left free to take the case ahead.
The Attorney General’s Office has drawn attention to the fact that if the accused is presumed to be innocent and walks around in the open, there will be a dire situation in society.
“If the accused are released under the presumption of innocence, it seems that the criminal justice administration will not be able to work,” it says. “As a result, even if the accused can walk freely in society, there is a high possibility that the society itself will feel insecure and people will destroy the evidence against the survivor.”
This story was translated from the original Nepali version and edited for clarity and length.