Nepal gets its first dollar billionaire

Always wondered how much Wai Wai was earning…

Binod Chaudhary Is Nepal’s First Billionaire

The tiny Himalayan nation of Nepal (population:30 million) , among the poorest countries in the world,  has produced its first billionaire in Binod Chaudhary, chairman of the Cinnovation/Chaudhary Group, a conglomerate of close to 80 companies with interests in banking, foods, cement, real estate, hotels, power, retail, electronics. But Chaudhary, 57,  faced with restrictions at home,  has built much of his estimated $1 billion fortune overseas through his Singapore-based arm Cinnovation.

The group has expanded into neighboring India with its famous Wai Wai brand of instant noodles and forged a partnership with India’s Taj Hotels Group with which it owns hotels in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand as well as in India. It also has a stake in Alila, an Asian luxury boutique chain and is additionally creating its own hotels under the Zinc brand.

Chaudhary hails from a business clan with Indian roots. His grandfather Bhuramal Chaudhary, a textile trader from Rajasthan, migrated to Nepal in the 19th century. He opened a small textile store that used to supply goods to the erstwhile rulers. Chaudhary’s father, Lunkaran Das, converted that into Arun Emporium, Nepal’s first department store. The eldest of 3 siblings, Chaudhary joined the business at age 18, giving up his plan to study accounting in India when his father developed a heart ailment. The group had 400 people then versus 7,500 today.

A family division gave Chaudhary the freedom to pursue his own ambitions. Seeking expansion, he created Cinnovation through which he acquired overseas assets. Though scandals have dogged Chaudhary as he has flowered, he was also able to get a controlling interest in Nepal’s Nabil Bank . This was possible because two of Binod’s three sons, Rahul and Varun, are non -resident Nepalis based in Dubai and Singapore. His eldest son Nirvana looks after the domestic interests.

Nepal gave up its 240-year old monarchy five years ago, but its dreams of the new republic including a new constitution remain in limbo as political parties failed to agree on a host of issues. The country’s parliament, headed by a Maoist-led government, was dissolved last May and fresh elections are due this year. Nonetheless, Chaudhary who was a member of  the erstwhile parliament, remains bullish on his home country and its economic potential beyond tourism.

A fitness fanatic, Chaudhary goes trekking in the Himalayas every year to clear his head. He and wife Sarika also regularly visit their health farm in the Philippines.

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Nepal: TRC about to be watered down (again)

Expect bad news and headlines including “watering down”.

Nepal revising TRC ordinance: Envoy tells HR Council

Nepalese Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva has told the international community that Nepal is committed to forming transitional justice mechanism in line with the international standards and the provisions of the peace agreement and the Interim Constitution to suit specific needs of the country.

Addressing the General Segment of the High Level Segment of the 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Friday, Ambassador Shankar Das Bairagi said the formation of transitional mechanism is an important step toward completing the peace process as well as laying concrete foundation for lasting peace.

“The ordinance for the formation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission is soon going to be resubmitted after necessary revisions for assent of the president,” he said.

The remarks by the envoy comes in the wake of the international community raising concerns over a provision of granting amnesty even to those involved in serious cases of human rights violations during the conflict in the proposed TRC ordinance that has reached the President´s Office.

While informing about Nepal´s efforts toward concluding the peace process, the envoy told the Council that the technical aspect of the peace process has been virtually completed with the integration of the Maoist combatants into the national army.

He also said that efforts are underway to forge consensus on holding elections to a new Constituent Assembly in a credible manner under a neutral non-partisan government. “The promulgation of the new constitution through the new Constituent Assembly will bring the peace process to its logical conclusion,” he said.

Also reiterating Nepal´s unflinching commitment to democracy, human rights, rule of law and inclusive development, the envoy said that the country has mainstreamed a rights-based approach in its development process.

“The Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007 guarantees human rights and fundamental freedoms to all citizens and we have put in place necessary legislative, policy and institutional measures for their realization,” he said.

The government is committed to strengthening the capacity of all human rights institutions from national to grassroots levels, ending impunity through effective enforcement of all possible measures, and the promotion of wider observance of the rule of law.

“Gender equality and mainstreaming remains a top priority and effective legal, policy and institutional measures are being taken to bring an end to the gender-based violence, including domestic violence in Nepal,” he further said.

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Nepal: Supreme Court decision on indigenous participation

Any update Minority Voices? Has it been delayed again?

Nepal: Supreme Court decision on indigenous participation in constitution making process deferred again for 4 March

Nepal’s Supreme Court has again deferred its final decision on a case filed by indigenous peoples organizations regarding participation of indigenous peoples’ freely chosen representatives in the constitution making process, scheduled for 22 February to 4 March. This is the third time that the decision has repeatedly been postponed since 3 February,citing busy schedule.

In 2009, immediately after the election of Constituent Assembly (CA), different indigenous peoples’ organizations had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court alleging their exclusion of indigenous peoples in constitution making process in contravention of constitutional norms and Nepal’s international treaty obligations. The writ petition formally invoked provisions of International Labour Organization Convention No. 169 and the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), ratified by Nepal and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), that Nepal voted in favor of.

In response to related communications from the indigenous peoples organizations to Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Committee and Rapporteur in 2009 and 2010 had repeatedly called for establishment of special mechanism to ensure effective participation of indigenous peoples and obtain their free, prior and informed consent in constitution making process.

Indigenous people had no say in choosing who would represent them in the CA that ultimately failed to produce a new constitution in 2012 as a result of disagreements among political parties on future federal set up of Nepal – a key concern of indigenous peoples. Though the Supreme Court decision is coming now after the demise of CA, it will hold great significance for future constitution writing or reform and other decision-making matters of Nepal that affect indigenous rights.

For more information, read about the case on the website of UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples or Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples page on Forest Peoples Programme website.

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Human Rights Organisation of Nepal (HURON) press release is clueless

When it comes to ridiculous NGO press releases, this one from the Human Rights Organisation of Nepal (HURON) should win a prize.

The only thing that is correct is that Kumar Lama should be tried in Nepal. But he hasn’t been.

The first thing that international human rights lawyers learn is that under international law, for the worst crimes (regarded as peremtory norms, torture being one of them) if a country delivers no ‘domestic remedies’ to solve a case, all other states are obligated to act.

Instead of talking about the Criminal Justice Act in the UK, the UN Charter and what HURON names as so-called “international law”, they should instead be pointing at the Convention Against Torture and jus cogens and saying that if Nepal fails to prosecute, somebody else should.

The future of human rights is the end of the border. HURON should remember that the International Criminal Court was set up to demonstrate this.

HR activists demand Col Lama trial in Nepal

Human Rights Organisation of Nepal has said that Colonel Kumar Lama should be prosecuted in Nepal under the Nepali judicial system.

Issuing a press release on Tuesday, it said that although transitional justice system has not yet been established in Nepal, justice can be delivered in such cases through the regular judicial system.

“Although, action on serious incidents is still not taken, we have capable and free court and judicial system,” read the statement issued by the organisation President Sudeep Pathak.

The decision to arrest Colonel Kumar Lama is conflicting because the section 134 of Criminal Justice Act 1988 of Britain is contradictory to the section 1and 4 of Article 2 of UN Charter 1945, further reads the statement.

The organisation has also urged the British government and concerned authorities to respect international law and government of Nepal to constitute Truth and Reconciliation Commission to take action on culprits.

From Himalayan Times >

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UK uses universal jurisdiction, arrests col. Kumar Lama for torture

Very interesting to see universal jurisdiction used in the UK. It’s quite rarely used. We can bet the government are angry.

UK police charge Nepalese colonel with 2 counts of torture during civil war

British police say they have charged a colonel in the Nepalese army with two counts of torture allegedly committed during the Himalayan nation’s civil war.

Kumar Lama, 46, was arrested Thursday at a residential address in the English town of St. Leonards-on-Sea, about 70 miles (115 kilometres) southeast of London.

Britain’s Metropolitan Police said Friday that the charges relate to two separate incidents that allegedly occurred between April and May 2005 at the Gorusinghe Army Barracks in Nepal.

Lama is charged with intentionally “inflicting severe pain or suffering” as a public official on two separate individuals and will appear in court Saturday.

British authorities claim “universal jurisdiction” over serious offences such as war crimes and torture, meaning such crimes can be prosecuted in Britain regardless of where they occurred.

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Discrimination against Dalits finally recognised in EU

Why has it taken until 2012 for the Europeans to wake up to this happening?

European Parliament adopts historic resolution on Dalits

Full EU Dalit Resolution >

A strongly worded resolution on caste discrimination in India was debated and adopted today by the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The Parliament condemned the high number of atrocities committed against Dalits in India and the Indian government’s insufficient action on the issue of caste discrimination.

The European Parliament (EP) today sent a strong message of solidarity to millions of victims of caste discrimination in India and urged the country’s authorities to live up to their pledges to end this serious human rights problem and ensure protection of Dalits and other vulnerable groups.

While acknowledging that significant work had already been done to eradicate caste discrimination in India, the EP expressed its deep concern over the continued human rights violations against Dalits; condemned the high number of atrocities committed against them; and deplored the non-intervention by state actors such as the police in acts of communal violence against Dalits.

Expressing its deep concern about the inhuman practice of manual scavenging, the EP urged the Government of India to amend and enforce the law banning this practice. The EP also called upon EU institutions to develop a specific policy on the issue and endorse a UN framework to eliminate caste discrimination – the so-called draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination based on Work and Descent.

“The message sent today by the European Parliament to the Government of India is a very clear one. It is time to get your act together and put an end to caste discrimination. It is also time for the EU to adopt a policy on caste discrimination and recognise it as a global human rights issue,” IDSN coordinator Rikke Nöhrlind said following the historic resolution.

The resolution, which was debated this afternoon, was adopted unanimously by the EP. In the debate, many members of parliament said that the Indian government does not take its human rights responsibilities seriously, and that authorities must do much more to enforce the laws that have been enacted to protect Dalit rights. Mrs. Lochbiehler, Chair of the EP Sub-Committee on Human Rights, said: ”Dalits are about a quarter of India’s population. India has legislated on certain levels, but with little success.” She further stated that the Indian authorities should intervene and come up with new legislation, and called for EU support to activists resisting ”the people who profit from this modern form of slavery”.

Mr. Van Dalen expressed concerns that thousands of Dalits are being tortured by the police, and that those who force Dalits into prostitution are not being prosecuted. ”We as the EU can make an important contribution to change that. India has to bring in reforms in the judiciary and social services. Let us introduce that as a precondition when the EU is negotiating with India on a new trade agreement”, he said. Several references were made to recent cases of acts of violence against Dalits, such as in Haryana, where Dalit girls and women have recently been the victims of a number of gang rapes, or Tamil Nadu, where communal violence against Dalit villages has made 1,500 people homeless.

Referring to these cases, Mr. Repo regretted that Dalits have not seen their situation improved, and that “the violent actions have shown how little has been done”. The resolution states that the EP remains “alarmed” by such cases and by “other reported and unreported atrocities against Dalits.” The EP has instructed its President to forward the resolution to India’s Prime Minister, EU institutions and member states, and the UN Secretary General, among others.

The resolution is also a strong call to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to take immediate action.


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The state of human rights in 2012

An interesting annual report from AHRC on Nepal.

The state of human rights in 2012

Download the full report on the state of human rights in Nepal, 2012

Nepal’s Constituent Assembly / Legislative Parliament dissolved at midnight on May 28, 2012, plunging the country’s constitutional creation, and thereby human rights framework, into extended limbo. The Assembly was dissolved after it failed to usher in a new constitution for Nepal, and though its mandate had been extended four times from two to four years. With the legislative authority of Nepal dissolved, pieces of legislation essential to the protection of human rights have been put on hold, and so has fundamental debate on the structuring and strengthening of democratic institutions in the country. Thus, democratic institutions have faced slow erosion through the year, bringing the development of a human rights protection framework to a standstill.

In November 2011, a special five member bench, headed by the Chief Justice, had authorized the Constituent Assembly’s tenure to be extended one last time for a period of six months. In spite of this, and amidst continuing disagreement about the federalist structure of the state, the government registered a bill seeking to amend the Interim Constitution, to extend the Constituent Assembly’s deadline by another three months. On May 24, the Supreme Court issued an interim order against the move to extend the Constituent Assembly’s mandate, and on 28 May the Prime Minister announced the dissolution of the Assembly, and the holding of fresh elections on November 22. But, elections have proven impossible to organize within such a short period of time, and at the time of writing, among calls for resignation of the government, and never-ending attempts to forge a consensus among political parties, the political developments of Nepal seems to have hit yet another impasse. A partial budget had to be released through ordinances and the Prime Minister announced fresh elections for May but no long-term solutions to the impasse seem to have been found.

The increased proliferation of bandhs (shut-downs) in the lead up to May 28, suggests the national political parties may be losing their leverage over protest groups they had earlier helped organize. Nepal’s far-western region was subjected to crippling bandhs for some 30 days in May, which, concomitant to disrupting daily life, hampered access to essential services including food and medicine, affecting the most vulnerable and the sick. Concerns raised about possible eruption of violence following the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly – which, thankfully, did not materialize – have lead the public to favour the current extended state of limbo over tense and destabilizing political developments.

Promises of a federal state, which had become a symbol of a larger agenda of inclusion to compensate centuries of hill Brahmin and Chhetri monopoly of state structure, have proven to be the very stumbling block that led to the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly once it became apparent that the political parties were not eager to deliver on their promises.

The failure of an overhaul of the state structure, to ensure equal participation of all citizens, should not only to be analyzed in terms of power stakes, but also in terms of institutional deficiencies to develop an inclusive, democratic, transparent, and rational decision-making process, which can effectively take into account and protect the different interests and rights of all the components of Nepali society.

What the last few months of the Constituent Assembly have shown is that the interest groups who managed to show enough force, or who were more privileged, were able to sign agreements, with the government yielding to their demands. This reflects the piecemeal approach that has characterized Nepali politics since the end of the conflict: the demands of the most organised and vocal are heeded, the isolated and vulnerable communities ignored.

The Nepali people’s trust in their political institutions and in major political parties has considerably eroded, as these have visibly placed their own political interests and objectives ahead of the aspirations of the people they have claimed to represent.

The role played by the judiciary in dissolving the Constituent Assembly has also brought it under fire from political actors, for allegedly exceeding jurisdiction. This has led to a reduction in the role played by the judiciary since May 28. The risk of backlash against the judiciary, which may strengthen calls to reduce its independence and strength, remains a concern.

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Interview with a Nepali maid

The media should be doing more interviews like this one, but with more depth too. What does Kumari think about urban society? How does she view class? What makes her happy?

Kumari Magar, Maid

Name: Kumari Magar

Age: 30

Location: Kathmandu

Does your spouse/partner live with you? I’m single.

What is your primary job? Domestic worker.

What is your monthly salary? $50

What is your household’s total income – including your partner’s salary, and any additional sources? $90

How many people are living in your household – what is their relationship to you? Two – a brother and sister.

How many are dependent on you/your partner’s income – what is their relationship to you? We depend on each other. My parents depend on them and each month we try to send them some money.

How much do you spend each month on food? $25

What is your main staple – how much does it cost each month? Rice and vegetables/$25

How much do you spend on rent? $20

How much on transport? $30

How much do you spend on educating your children each month? I don’t have any children, but I try to give my sister money to help with hers.

After you have paid all your bills each month, how much is left? Nothing.

Have you or any member of the household been forced to skip meals or reduce portion sizes in the last three months? Yes. Four months ago, when I was sick I couldn’t work and lost income. I didn’t have enough money for food.

Have you been forced to borrow money (or food) in the last three months to cover basic household needs? Yes, from friends. I have also requested advances on my salary from my employer.


Kumari Magar, 30, earns US$90 a month cleaning houses in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu – barely enough to live on. She stays with her brother and sister, having moved from Dolalghat village, 100km northeast of Kathmandu, six years ago to escape the hard life of a subsistence farmer.

“Coming to Kathmandu was a mistake. I can’t save a penny. At the end of each month there isn’t anything left. Most of my money goes to food, while the rest goes to rent. My brother and sister face a similar fate.

“Over the past two years, food expenses on vegetables, milk and sugar have really increased. We started skipping milk and sugar and are now eating smaller portions of vegetables.

“Sometimes, I manage to save money when my employers have parties at home and I can take the leftovers back for siblings and myself. Sometimes this food can last several days.

“As a maid, we dream of working for European and American expatriates who pay a good salary of around $150 per month. Most of us aren’t that lucky, however.

“I’m better off this way [unmarried]. If I had children they would suffer. I see my sister’s suffering already. She works so hard to take care of her children and send them to school. Her husband abandoned them.

“I need to find more work. I can’t save anything and can’t even pay back the money I borrowed from my friends four months ago.

“My employer says they are going to increase my wage by 10 percent … [But] I’m completely dependent on the mercy of my employers who can easily fire me if they are unhappy. Perhaps they will find someone who will work for even less.”

From IRIN >

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Rape case lodged with UN Human Rights Committee

Looks like we have finally run out of domestic remedies. Let’s see what whether the HRC accepts the “communication”. Who knows, “Purna Maya” and others like her may find some redress when its is reviewed in a couple of years.


19 December 2012– Marking calls to end violence against women and to increase women’s access to justice made on International Human Rights Day, and the 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence, Advocacy Forum and REDRESS today filed a landmark case on sexual violence before the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

The case has been brought by Purna Maya (name changed to protect her privacy), a victim of multiple rapes by Nepali soldiers, after she failed to achieve justice in Nepal.

Her lawyers have asked the Committee to find Nepal responsible for the torture she suffered.  In a significant move to the hundreds of other victims of rape during the 1996-2006 conflict, her lawyers also called on the Committee to find that a 35-day limitation period on bringing complaints of rape to police is discriminatory, and in violation of Nepal’s human rights obligations.

Purna Maya was dragged from her home to army barracks and raped by at least four soldiers in 2004, before being dumped on the street suffering severe injuries.  Despite notifying officials about the crime and identifying at least one of the alleged perpetrators in 2006, there has been no investigation more than six years on.

In 2011 her lawyers and number of Nepali women’s rights organisations were barred from lodging a complaint with the police because of a law which states that complaints must be brought to the police within 35 days of the rape.  An appeal to the Supreme Court calling for the registration of the case failed, leaving the victim without any remedies.

“This case concerns one victim, but highlights the experiences of the hundreds, if not thousands, of victims of sexual violence during the conflict in Nepal”, said Mandira Sharma, Chair of the NGO Advocacy Forum Nepal, which represents Purna Maya.

“Victims of horrific abuse have for too long been ignored, by both the state and society, leading to a situation of complete impunity for rape and other sexual violence that shows no respect for the rights of women and girls”, Sharma said.

“Despite their urgent medical and psychological needs, victims of sexual violence from the conflict have not even benefited from the limited support given by payments under the government’s Interim Relief packages – they have been marginalised from the peace process”, added Sharma.

“The failure to respond to these cases is a serious breach of international human rights law,” emphasised Sarah Fulton, a lawyer at the international NGO REDRESS, which worked with Advocacy Forum in bringing the claim. “It is clearly established that rape can amount to torture under international law.  There should be no limitation period on bringing complaints for crimes amounting to torture.”

“Even worse, by maintaining a barrier to prosecuting rape which does not apply to other crimes, and by its complete inaction on conflict-era sexual violence, Nepal is guilty of discrimination against women, which is contrary to the most basic of human rights principles”, Fulton continued.

According to Dr. Hari Bansh Tripathi, Director of Advocacy Forum, the Government should not wait for the Committee to make a finding as to whether Nepal is responsible for a violation of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Rather, it should use this unique opportunity to take action long overdue to address the legacy of impunity for rape and sexual violence.

“If it wants to show it is genuine, the Government of Nepal must begin to investigate and prosecute these cases now, and provide support to the victims to help them put their lives back together. The Supreme Court has already found that the 35 days limitation restricts women’s access to justice and has ordered the government to amend the law.  This jurisprudence clearly provides legal grounds for authority to investigate,” says Dr. Tripathi.

Further information from Mandira Sharma, Advocacy Forum at +977 985 1048475, Dr. Hari Bansh Tripathi at or at +977-9841471184 or Sarah Fulton, REDRESS, at or +44 (0) 20 3286 5435 


Nepal was locked in internal conflict between government forces and Maoist rebels from 1996 to 2006.  Although many violations of humanitarian law and human rights were recorded by UN agencies and NGOs, data regarding sexual violence is scarce.  Available evidence suggests, however, that there are a very large number of women victims.  In 2009 the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and Advocacy Forum Nepal carried out a one-year study which indicated a high prevalence of such crimes(The report, Across the Lines, is available here).

Women have suffered unwanted pregnancies, gynecological and psychosocial problems. The grave consequences for women have been exacerbated by their difficulties in accessing health care.  Many women have also faced huge social, cultural and economic pressures, and they have also often been ostracised from their families and communities.

However, it has not been possible to file criminal complaints in cases of rape, because the Nepali Country Code imposes a 35-day statute of limitation on the crime. Complaints were not accepted during the conflict period, so despite the widespread use of rape and other forms of sexual violence during the conflict, rape survivors have no prospect of achieving justice under the current law.

The Supreme Court of Nepal has twice ordered the revision of the statute because the limitation period is “unreasonable” and “unrealistic” (Sapana Pradhan Malla v. Government of Nepal) and has denied victims justice (Mandamus order vs. Government of Nepal and others).  However, the statute of limitation for rape remains unchanged and reflects an insurmountable barrier to justice for survivors of rape.

Advocacy Forum Nepal is a leading NGO working to promote the rule of law and uphold international human rights standards in Nepal.  Since its establishment in 2001, AF has been at the forefront of human rights advocacy and confronted the entrenched culture of impunity in Nepal.

REDRESS is a UK-based international NGO that seeks justice and reparation for survivors of torture and related international crimes. It fulfils its mandate through a variety of means, including casework, law reform, research and advocacy.

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Lesbians “allowed”; courts to decide where women live

This journalist has decided to label a court allowing two women to live together as a “liberal judgement” and completely ignoring the illiberality of a court even admitting a case which is formed on the basis that women’s living arrangements are decided by others.

What court in the 21st century accepts a case on the basis that a family should decide where a women lives?

Nepal court allows lesbian live-in relationship

Continuing its tradition of passing liberal judgements regarding the rights of sexual minorities, Nepal’s Supreme Court has recognised a live-in relationship between two lesbians despite the efforts of the family of one of the women to separate them.

In a landmark judgement on Monday, the Court allowed Rajani Shahi to live with her lover as she wished, rather than with her husband, human rights lawyer involved in the case Hari Phuyal said Tuesday.

Shahi, a married woman with a 11-year-old daughter, has been living with Prem Kumari Nepali, after meeting her two years ago. Shahi had sought divorce from her husband. But Shahi’s husband’s and her own family tried to separate them several times and sent her to a rehabilitation centre to change her sexual orientation after she declared that she was a lesbian.

Although the agreement, mediated by the National Women’s Commission, was to try to change her sexual orientation for 45 days, her family did not let her meet her lover Nepali after this period was over, according to Phuyal.

Nepali then filed a habeas corpus case in the Supreme Court following which the ruling came. Shahi appeared in the court on Monday and told the judge that she wanted to go with her lover Nepali rather than her husband.

The whereabouts of the couple is not known because of fears that they may be separated again.

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