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Nepal Govt frees ex-PM Deuba

SC on Monday had dismissed a royal act as unconstitutional, paving way for the release of former premier.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 14:39 IST

Nepal's royal government freed a former prime minister who had been jailed on graft charges by an anti-corruption commission that was annulled this week by the Supreme Court, an aide said on Tuesday.

Sher Bahadur Deuba was released around midnight from a jail in Kathmandu, said Dip Kumar Upadhaya, a senior leader of Deuba's Nepali Congress Democratic party.

King Gyanendra sacked Deuba before seizing direct control of the government, arresting leading politicians and declaring emergency rule on February 1, 2005.

The king later created the Royal Commission for Corruption Control, saying it would bring corrupt politicians and government bureaucrats to justice.

TheSupreme Court annulledthe commission on Monday, saying it was set up "against the norms and spirit of the Constitution."

The court also declared all decisions made by the commission invalid, leaving the government no choice but to free Deuba.

No reasons were given why Deuba was freed at midnight, after a group of supporters who had been waiting outside the jail for his release had already returned home.

The court decision to annul the commission came as a blow to Gyanendra. Opponents have accused the body of being a tool for the king to crack down on his adversaries.

The court decision and Deuba's release also gave encouragement to an alliance of seven main political parties that has been organising demonstrations to pressure the king to restore democracy.

"The court has finally given us justice. This is a victory for democracy and a humiliating defeat for the royal regime," Upadhaya said.

First Published: Feb 14, 2006 09:27 IST