Taking advantage of a provision in the law that allows prisoners to remain in hospital on medical grounds, Prithivi Malla has barely spent any time in jail.
Malla is accused of hitting and killing a woman with his car while driving under the influence in Budhanilkantha of Kathmandu.
The Kathmandu District Court had issued an order on January 8 stating that Malla be held in Dillibazar Prison until the final verdict. However, Malla was admitted to hospital almost immediately after the verdict and has spent almost no time in jail.
As per media reports, while being taken into custody, Malla had suddenly pretended to be sick and asked specifically to be taken to the Basundhara-based Chirayu Hospital, the same hospital where Naresh Thapa, younger brother of Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, was placed after his arrest by the Nepal Police’s CIB in September last year.
But as the rule requires, Malla was first taken to a government hospital — Bir Hospital. Bir Hospital then referred Malla to Chirayu on his request and he has been staying in the hospital ever since.
21-year-old Malla was taken into custody after causing the death of 38-year-old Lila Devkota in a drunk-driving accident in Budhanilkantha on December 14. He has been accused of vehicular homicide.
Chirayu Hospital reportedly keeps providing various excuses to keep Malla there despite several requests by prison authorities to discharge him.
Malla has been diagnosed with hypertension, severe depression with adjustment disorder, along with asthma, leading to blood pressure and oxygen saturation problems.
Meanwhile, doctors have said that Malla could not be suffering from all the problems at once as stated in the diagnosis.
When Dillibazar Prison officials showed Malla’s diagnosis to the prison doctors, even they said that Malla was not suffering from anything serious and could spend his time in jail.
In the past, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, the former House Speaker, had been staying in Norvic Hospital ever since he was taken into custody on allegations of attempted rape.
Often, the prisoner’s lawyers and the hospital’s doctors facilitate the stay. The lawyers get to keep their clients out of jail while the hospitals, which are generally private, profit from the prisoner’s extended stay.
After all this, the Medical Council has now decided to investigate Malla’s situation. Doctors involved in Malla’s treatment will also be investigated.