On April 7, 2022, the government suspended Nepal Rastra Bank Governor Maha Prasad Adhikari. Various news reports claimed that the action against the governor was the result of a tussle between him and Finance Minister Janardan Sharma. On April 17, Adhikari moved the Supreme Court against the government decision. Two days later, on April 19, the apex court issued an interim order reinstating Adhikari. After the governor’s reinstatement, media reports said the finance minister was under moral pressure to resign.
Media reports claimed, in a similar case, over two decades ago, “the then finance minister Mahesh Acharya” had resigned on March 29, 2001, after the then governor, Tilak Rawal, was reinstated by the Supreme Court.
Nepali daily Kantipur, English-language daily The Kathmandu Post, and Nepali news website Setopati published news reports claiming that Mahesh Acharya had resigned as the finance minister after the court reinstated the then Governor Rawal. Also, Nepali Congress spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma in a tweet made a similar claim.
South Asia Check fact-checked this claim with the help of archival materials including newspaper reports of that time.
The then Governor Rawal was sacked by the government on August 28, 2000. Within a few days, on September 6, Rawal challenged the decision at the Supreme Court. Then, on March 28, 2001, the court overturned the government decision and reinstated Rawal for his remaining term.
At the time of Rawal’s sacking, Acharya was finance minister in the Girija Prasad Koirala-led government. Acharya was also assigned the defence portfolio by the government on October 2, 2000, and he held both portfolios until February 7, 2001. On February 8, 2001, Kantipur reported that Koirala reshuffled his cabinet on February 7. Following the reshuffle, Ram Sharan Mahat was appointed finance minister on February 12 while Acharya was made defence minister.
“Observers have viewed the removal of Mahesh Acharya from key responsibility of finance ministry and assignment as defence minister as meaningful since he is regarded as extremely close to the prime minister and also enjoyed the goodwill of donor agencies,” the Kantipur report of February 8, 2001, said.
Then on March 28, 2001, the Supreme Court reinstated Governor Rawal stating that his sacking was against the law. After the court verdict, Acharya resigned as defence minister on March 29.
In a report published on March 30, 2001 (see newspaper clip above), Kantipur said Acharya resigned as the defence minister on moral grounds after Governor Rawal was reinstated by the Supreme Court. Likewise, India’s ZEE News published a report on March 29, 2001, under the headline: Nepal’s defence minister resigns.
Hence, the claim that Acharya resigned as finance minister after Rawal’s reinstatement is false. He had resigned as defence minister.
This report first appeared on South Asia Check.