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Former Security Printing Center ED Bikal Paudel sentenced to two years in prison for corruption

Kathmandu: Bikal Paudel, the former executive director of Surakshya Printing Center, has been sentenced to two years in prison and fined Rs 254.7 million after being found guilty in the high-profile security printing press purchase case.

The Special Court delivered its verdict on Tuesday, concluding a long-standing investigation into significant financial irregularities related to the purchase of a security printing press. Judges Tek Narayan Kunwar and Murari Babu Shrestha presided over the case and determined that the purchase process involved over Rs 400 million in irregularities.

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had initially filed the corruption case against Paudel and several other individuals, accusing them of misappropriation and abuse of power in the procurement process. The court’s decision highlighted the extent of the malpractices involved and underscored the judiciary’s commitment to addressing corruption in public institutions.

In addition to Paudel, the court sentenced three other individuals to imprisonment and fines for their roles in the corruption case. The sentences vary based on their level of involvement in the fraudulent activities. However, five other accused individuals were acquitted, as the court found insufficient evidence to convict them.

The verdict has been widely discussed in the media and among the public, as it marks a significant step in the fight against corruption in Nepal. The CIAA’s successful prosecution in this case is seen as a testament to its efforts to hold public officials accountable and to ensure transparency and integrity in governmental operations.

Reacting to the verdict, anti-corruption advocates praised the court’s decision, expressing hope that it would serve as a deterrent to other public officials who might consider engaging in corrupt practices. “This ruling sends a clear message that corruption will not be tolerated and that those who engage in such activities will face severe consequences,” said a spokesperson for Transparency International Nepal.

The case of the security printing press purchase had drawn considerable attention due to the large sums of money involved and the implications for public trust in government procurement processes. The security printing press was intended for the production of sensitive government documents, such as passports and national identification cards, which require stringent security measures to prevent fraud and misuse.

In a brief statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs reiterated its commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring that all procurement activities are conducted transparently and fairly. “We are dedicated to preventing corruption at all levels and will continue to work closely with the CIAA to achieve this goal,” the statement read.

As Bikal Paudel begins his prison sentence, the case serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges in combating corruption and the importance of vigilance and accountability in public service. The substantial fine imposed on Paudel also underscores the financial repercussions of engaging in corrupt activities, aiming to recover a portion of the misappropriated funds and discourage similar conduct in the future.

This high-profile case and its outcome will likely be studied closely by legal experts, policymakers, and anti-corruption agencies as a significant example of justice being served in Nepal’s ongoing battle against corruption.

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