The District Court, Sunsari, has acquitted Krishna Bahadur Giri alias Siddhababa of rape charges. A bench of Justice Arjun Koirala acquitted Giri, a self-styled godman, on Monday despite there being evidences to substantiate the allegations.

The district court gave verdict on the case on the basis of a one-sided hearing of the accused, ignoring the request of the government prosecutor’s office to stay yesterday’s hearing.

Citing lack of sufficient evidence to prove the allegation, Monday’s verdict cleared Giri of all charges. The full text of the verdict has yet to be released.

A woman had lodged a police complaint against Giri on October 21, 2019 alleging that he had raped her after calling her to his ashram for meditation. Following preliminary investigation, police had filed a case at the district court and arrested Giri.

Though Sunsari District Court had initially ruled to release him on bail on December 30, 2019, Giri was kept in judicial custody after Biratnagar High Court overruled the decision later at the plea of the district government attorney’s office.

After his arrest, accused Giri had filed a petition at the Supreme Court demanding his release. Only a few weeks ago, Supreme Court had ordered that he be kept in detention.

Giri’s case file from the Attorney General’s Office, however, had not reached the District Public Prosecutor’s Office, Sunsari and hence the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Sunsari had requested to stay Monday’s hearing.

However, Judge Koirala is said to have insisted on hearing the case with whatever files were available.

“After nothing worked, we even applied for an adjournment of the hearing by email. But to no avail. We had expected the hearing to be adjourned, but we’re shocked to learn that a verdict was issued,” said a source close to the government prosecutor’s office.

As per the law, judges must hear both parties – prosecutor and defender — before administrating justice from the court. However, Judge Koirala’s ruling without hearing both sides has violated the basic principle of justice.

This, nonetheless, is not the first time that Koirala has been dragged into controversy. His efficiency was questioned last year after the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority wrote to the Judiciary to investigate into Koirala.

According to the woman, the then investigating officer DSP Binod Sharma had pressed to reconcile with Giri as soon as she filed the FIR. Even during investigation, Giri’s witnesses had blamed the woman of being “mentally ill” and making up stories.

She added that Giri had tried all tricks to influence the investigation and managed to get off scot-free despite his name being mentioned as the perpetrator in the FIR, him calling her to apologize after the incident, and the forensic laboratory confirming that the voice of the ‘audio file’ (call) recorded is that of Giri.