Appointment of Maoist minister sparks outcry,SC notice to govt

Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi of the Supreme Court ordered Information and Communications Minister Agni Prasad Sapkota, who has been accused of involvement in the abduction and killing of Arjun Lama of Kavere district, to furnish a written reply and present himself in the court by June 5, according to officials of the apex court.

The notice has made the government, Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal, Home Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Kavre District Police Office as defendants.

The notice was in response to a public interest litigation filed by a group of human rights activists, including Sushil Pyakurel, Kapil Shrestha and Charan Prasai, pleading for action against Sapkota for his alleged involvement in the murder of Lama on April 29, 2005.

The appointment of Sapkota, a top Maoist guerrilla leader during the civil war, has sparked an outcry in the country. However, he has denied involvement in violation of human rights or any murder case.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights earlier expressed concern over his appointment.

The Maoists, who ended the insurgency and joined mainstream politics in 2006, emerged as the single largest party in the 2008 Constituent Assembly election and headed a coalition under its supremo Prachanda.

The government collapsed amid a row over the dismissal of the then army chief Rukmangad Katawal.

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