SC tells CIAA not to exceed jurisdiction in carrying out raids – My Republica

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KATHMANDU, Jan 11: The Supreme Court has ordered the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) not to exceed its jurisdiction while carrying out raids in future.

Issuing its final verdict on a writ petition filed by Senior Advocate Shambhu Thapa against the CIAA's move to raid his law firm on the  basis of a directive alone, a division bench of Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha and Justice Sushila Karki asked the anti-graft body to limit itself within the jurisdiction laid out by existing law while carrying out any such raid in future.

"Unless investigations conducted within its jurisdiction yield justification, an act of conducting a raid could infringe the jurisdictions of others and hinder fundamental and legal rights," stated the verdict.

The apex court has also warned the CIAA and Chief Commissioner Lok Man Singh Karki not to intervene in an individual's professional rights, dignity and right to secrecy without first conducting basic investigations and reaching a proper conclusion. 

The bench has also stated that the CIAA raided Thapa's law firm without taking any formal decision,  without showing sufficient evidence and justification, and solely through the a directive letter.

The Department of Revenue Investigation (DRI) had raided Thapa's law firm, Legal Advisor Forum, in September 2013 on charges of tax evasion after the CIAA issued a directive to it (DRI). Thapa had immediately filed a petition against the DRI's move, naming the CIAA, its Chief Commissioner Karki and other government officials as defendants. 

The court has stated that the raid was conducted in haste and without even carrying out a general investigation what amount of tax remained to be cleared by Thapa and how much revenue leakage was involved. 

"It is obvious that an advocate should also pay taxes and revenue to the state in line with the law," the court stated. However, the court found that  Thapa had received a tax clearance certificate for up to fiscal year 2013/014 and he had duly submitted this, but the defendants were silent about it in their written reponse.

The apex court has also invalidated the directive issued by the CIAA and its other steps, as these were in contravention of the law.

 

Published on: My Republica (January 11, 2016)