Ousted Nepal king slapped with law suit

June 21st, 2008 - 1:32 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, June 21 (IANS) Less than four weeks after he was shorn of his crown and sceptre and asked to start life as a commoner outside the royal palace, Nepal’s deposed king Gyanendra will now face the might of the law for the first time in the history of the country’s 239-year-old monarchy. Nepal’s Supreme Court will begin hearing a public interest litigation that has taken to task the former king, his wife Komal, stepmother Ratna, son Paras and daughter-in-law Himani along with the government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.

Lawyer Bhupendra Prasad Pokhrel will take to court a family that was among Nepal’s most powerful and till two years ago was regarded as above law by Nepal’s constitution.

Pokhrel is challenging the decision by the government this month to allow the dethroned king and his wife to move into an inferior but still a former palace on the outskirts of the capital from the Narayanhity royal palace.

He is also questioning the state bounty to the former queen mother, who has been allowed to stay on in her mansion in the Narayanhity.

The former crown prince and crown princess have also been dragged into the suit since they are currently staying in the former king’s old residence, the reason he gave to the council of ministers when asked why he could not return there.

These decisions, Pokhrel is contending, have violated the verdict of Nepal’s law-making authority, the newly elected constituent assembly, which in a historic proclamation May 28 abolished monarchy and ordered the ousted king to vacate the Narayanhity royal palace in 15 days.

During the hearing, the apex court may ask the former royals to appear before it and defend themselves.

Soon after the fall of the king’s army-backed regime in 2006, the new government formed a commission to bring to justice the people responsible for the atrocities of the regime.

However, though the Rayamajhi Commission asked the king for a written explanation, the request was ignored.

The new government subsequently swept the commission under the carpet and did not take any measures against the king or his royal cabinet.

But now, after a national election upheld the abolition of monarchy, the Maoists, whose 10-year armed uprising brought the downfall of the royal family, are also demanding a fresh investigation into the infamous massacre in the royal palace seven years ago.

The assassination of the then king Birendra and his entire family paved the way for Gyanendra, a younger brother, to ascend the throne.

Under his kingship, a high-level commission probed the massacre and put the blame on then crown prince Dipendra, saying the heir apparent killed himself after slaughtering his family in a drugs and drinks-induced rage.

Gyanendra defended himself against the muttered suspicions over the slayings, saying that he and his family had been the target of heartless allegations that smacked of an orchestrated conspiracy.

The Maoists say a new investigation would be beneficial for the former king as well since it can clear him of all accusations if he is innocent.

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