May 1: The Supreme Court has upheld its interim order to allow Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Maha Prasad Adhikari to resume his duties. A division bench of Justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Tanka Bahadur Moktan issued a verdict on Friday upholding an earlier decision taken by the apex court over the suspension of the governor.
Governor Adhikari had filed a writ petition on April 17 against the government's decision to form a committee to investigate his alleged role in leaking sensitive information relating to the decisions of the Ministry of Finance and not effectively fulfilling his responsibilities.
A meeting of the Council of Ministers on April 7 had decided to investigative into the alleged role of Governor Adhikari in leaking sensitive information. The cabinet meeting had formed a committee under the coordination of former Supreme Court Justice Purushottam Bhandari to investigate the matter. The committee was asked to submit its report within a month.
However, responding to the writ petition on April 19, a single bench of Justice Hari Prasad Phuyal had issued an interim order against the government's decision.
On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that the government started probe against the governor without adequate grounds.
The court observed that the government had initiated the probe without any valid basis and the governor was not given any opportunity to defend himself. In this context, the court ruled that the government’s decision was biased and was carried out with mala fide intentions.
The court verdict states that the government’s decision to investigate against the governor is against the precedents set in similar cases involving former governors Tilak Rawal and Dipendra Bahadur Chhetri.
A letter handed over to the governor only states that he lacks the capacity to work as the central bank’s governor. However, it does not mention on what grounds did the ministry consider the governor incompetent, reads the verdict.
The court ruling has also upheld the autonomy of the central bank.
Adhikari was appointed as the governor of NRB by the then government led by KP Sharma Oli. He was praised for adopting a private sector-friendly policy to uplift the economy battered by Covid-19.
However, after the formation of the new government, it was revealed that he did not enjoy good relation with incumbent Finance Minister Janardan Sharma. Both Sharma and Adhikari had publicly denied their relation had soured.