The parliamentary special committee formed to investigate charges of budget tampering against former finance minister Janardan Sharma has decided to give clean chit to Sharma.
The majority of members in the committee have agreed to submit to Speaker Agni Sapkota the report that gives clean chit to Sharma with CPN-UML lawmakers in the committee putting dissenting opinion.
The 11-member committee has four members from CPN-UML, two each from Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN (Maoist Center), and one each from CPN (Unified Socialist), Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) and Loktantrik Samajwadi Party (LSP).
Ruling lawmakers in the committee have concluded that Sharma is innocent pointing that the evidence and statements collected does not prove that he is guilty while UML lawmakers are adamant that he cannot be deemed innocent on the basis of evidence and statements collected.
Sharma has been accused of inviting unauthorized persons to the Finance Ministry to tweak tax rates at the time of finalizing the budget on the night of May 28. He has denied the allegations.
He courted another controversy when the Finance Ministry, responding to a right to information (RTI) request seeking closed-circuit TV (CCTV) footage of the night before the budget presentation, said that it does not have CCTV footage of more than 13 days.
Sharma resigned on July 6 after the 11-member parliamentary committee was formed to investigate allegations against him.
The forensic lab of Nepal Police has recovered the Finance Ministry’s CCTV footage of May 28 and May 29 but the footage could not establish entry of unauthorized persons in the Finance Ministry.
Forensic experts told the committee that the quality of the Finance Ministry’s CCTV footage had deteriorated as they had transferred the videos to multiple devices in order to check them.